Sean O’Rourke When I think of a concept that have fascinated that have fascinated both me and the general public all, it would be myth. If there is one concept that pushes a myth more than anything else, it is television. I read a book called Why We Love Sociopaths by Adam Kotsko and the first chapter, the author talked about sociopaths and how they have become dominant figures in the world of TV. Two of the examples that he used were Homer Simpson from The Simpsons and Jack Bauer from 24.
They are both good examples because one is a selfish bum who puts himself ahead of everyone else including his own family and the other does horrible things to other people in order to protect the country that he is serving but for some reason, they are beloved amongst the TV viewing public. My reasoning’s for this would be the following,1. Homer Simpson may be a sociopath most of the time but he is oblivious to what a jerk he is because he isn’t exactly the sharpest tool in the head.
Despite all that, he is hugely successful and has a family with 3 children. He is the type of sociopath that average Americans wish they could be which is sitting on our butts, watching TV, eating donuts, and drinking beer all day long and still be able to live the American dream. He represents a fantasy that we all wish we could live out, being lazy and doing nothing but still be a success anyway.2. Jack Bauer may come off as a sociopath but he is only being that way because the situation demands it. Terrorists are invading America and trying to destroy it by any means necessary. So, feels the need to protect his country by any means necessary. In Jack’s mind, the ends justify the means. It creates a myth that being violent and harming others is okay because they are bad guys who not only deserve it but have info that could be useful in order to save the day. So, the author makes it sound like being a sociopath is the cool thing to be but in reality, that is a myth that people buy into by simply watching too much television. If we did half the things that these fictional characters do here in the real world, we would either be in jail and we would be total losers with nothing to show for our lives. I think that the reasons why we seem to approve of this behavior is that we wish this could be the norm in real life. We can do all sorts of horrible things to people we don’t like or to anyone that we think deserves it and get away with it and because of that, we live vicariously through these characters. Another source that I would like to discuss would be another book called Television Studies: The Key Concepts. One of the many concepts that it talks about is cultural studies which I think would be a perfect topic to discuss. The author starts off by explaining that cultural studies is the study of culture and that television is an aspect of culture. I can see his point that TV is a very important part of our culture because it shapes what people perceive to be cool and hip. The Simpsons certainly shaped our culture in a big way. We utter their catchphrases almost on a daily basis, paved the way for other animated TV shows like Family Guy and American Dad, and even President George H W Bush painted the show as a prime example of dysfunctional TV families. It may not be as popular as it once was but it is still as relevant as ever. Another genre that I think has shaped our culture in a big way is Pro Wrestling. Pro Wrestling has been a major part in the TV industry for as long as I’ve been alive and its impact on pop culture is much bigger than some might think it is. This is a staged artform that pits good guys against bad guys. The platform is designed to tell stories and get their audience emotionally invested in the characters that they are presenting. Throughout the history of wrestling, the characters that become the most popular are the ones who are portrayed in a realistic way which helps the audience identify with them more. Wrestling fans tend to live vicariously through their favorite wrestlers and wish they could be just like them so they are buying into the myth that their favorite wrestlers are some kind of heroes. Because of all this, we now hear people quotes their favorite wrestlers either from childhood or from today on their social media accounts, dressing up like them, wearing their t shirts out in public, or even using wrestling references in every day conservations. The Wrestling impact on our culture gets overlooked in my opinion. I read Roland Barthes essay called The World of Wrestling that was written back in the 50’s. He says that Wrestling is not a sport and that it is a spectacle and the wrestlers have to feed off the emotions of the crowd as they are performing the match. He couldn’t be anymore right; Pro Wrestling is about telling a story with your body and a wrestler’s job is to invoke as much emotion from the crowd as you can. They are to read them and be able to keep their attention from bell to bell. He also points out that wrestlers suffering in a submission hold is an excessive portrayal of Suffering. That is what is calling selling, selling is crucial for any match. When you are in a submission in hold and crying out in pain, you are selling emotion to the audience and making them believe that you are in pain. Getting the folks to believe in you and be willing to buy a ticket to see you perform in Pro Wrestling in a nutshell. Going back to the Television Studies book., It talks about violence and how TV has impacted our views of violence. It cited an example of John Hinckley; Ronald Reagan’s would be assassin. It is alleged than Hinckley thought of himself as Travis Bickle, the protagonist of the Martin Scorsese’s film called Taxi Driver. Hinckley had seen the movies 15 times and identified with it. In the movie, Travis Bickle tries to kill a political candidate in order to win the attention of a socialite. This was Hinckley’s exact same goal, in his own sick mind, he thoughts killing the President of the United States would gain the attention of his favorite actress Jodie Foster. Movies can have a negative impact on someone’s else mental state if they allow to happen. Another prime example of this would be the Aurora shooting where somebody dressed up as The Joker shot up an entire theater during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises. Television has glorified violence to where some lose their sense of reality and try to emulate what they see in the movies and it has impacted culture in a hugely negative way.News plays a huge part in television and culture. It provides their audience with info about what’s going on in the world. They even bring us events that are unfolding as they are reporting on it. Television Studies points out that some very important news stories such as the death of Princess Diana and the Gulf War adds credence to the suggestion that news has become part of a daily ritual for many people where they sit down and watch a certain story together. National TV news shows have had a both a positive and negative impact on our culture. The positive impact is having networks to turn too to keep up with the latest in what’s going on in the world. The negative is that some networks use their platform to push their own agendas rather than reporting the news honestly. So, all in all, it’s been both a blessing and a curse. Television has greatly impacted the lives of our children. Shows like Sesame Street and Mister Rogers Neighborhood have been used to raise and educate kids and provided them with some positive role models in their lives besides their parents. I mostly grew up watching Nickelodeon shows like Rugrats, Doug, Hey Arnold, and Spongebob Squarepants. Those shows became popular with even adults and have impacted our culture so much that we often see memes of these shows on the internet, especially Spongebob, goes to show that even kids show can be for adults as well. But even as grown adults, we still feel a strong attachment to our old childhood shows, especially Mr Rogers. The man spend his life trying to make his fellow human begins feel as good about themselves as possible. He used TV and his real life personality to reach out to the youth of America and be a father figure to them. Even in death, he is still one of the most universally loved public figures in the world. I think it goes to show that as much as we have fallen in love with anti heroes and cool bad guys, we still are softies for the saints of the world, especially ones who go out of their way to show us love and convince us that they are the real deal.