Philosophy & Theology In Mass Media


This semester in the Mass Media In Society class has taught me a lot about how I, and society as a whole, view various forms of media. Every individual takes something different from media that is personal to him or her, and can never be fully understood by another. Everything will affect people differently, especially when raised with varying backgrounds and moral standards.


Mass Media can be defined simply as any form of print, electronic, or performed source of news, entertainment, expression, and/or creativity that is in the popular culture market. Examples can range from television shows, magazines, music, movies, theatre performance, literature, and even the Internet. Mass Media can have a profound effect upon our society and the way we live our everyday lives. A great example of this is the radio program decades ago about an alien invasion that was taken serious and caused a massive uproar in the community when people thought the fictional story was true. Another example could be the implications of those involved with the Columbine High School massacre claiming that bands such as Marilyn Manson, Rammestein, and KMFDM were the direct influence for the actions of the murders. A further example could be made out of the simple fact that hearing a song in the background while in a shopping mall will end up being stuck in our heads for the rest of the day. All of these are small examples of the ways in which mass media, especially music and radio, can affect our lives. The influence and impact these forms of media have upon our lives all contribute to shaping our society and culture today, hence also making them popular media.


General examples of mass media that are very popular today are movies such as The Mummy Returns, The Matrix, Fight Club, Ever After, Braveheart, and even South Park the movie. Some examples of music that seems to have an outstanding impact in the media world is Madonna, Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, Back Street Boys, Limp Bizkit, Marilyn Manson, Metallica, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, and Aerosmith. Television examples are M*A*S*H*, Love Boat, I Dream Of Genie, The Simpsons, MTV, The Brady Bunch, and The Partridge Family. The Internet also is an example of mass media with it’s many websites, tools, and e-businesses that cater to society’s everyday needs. Websites such as eBay.com, Amazon.com, and even msn.com all make life a little easier. All of these examples have a large place in today’s mass media.


Culture, by the class definition, is the ‘artificial,’ secondary environment which man superimposes on the natural. It comprises language, habits, ideas, beliefs, customs, social organizations, inherited artifacts, technical process, and values. This definition is the most accurate and clearly states just what makes up a society’s culture. All these aspects, both created each generation and passed down through the years, is integral to the survival of “culture” in a society.


My personal approach to culture has been shaped by my past experiences in life as well as my Christian and individual moral standards. With any form of mass media, discernment must be applied to find the Biblical or personal significance in everything. When it comes to music, I generally approach a new band based predominately on whether or not I enjoy the music itself. If I don’t enjoy the music then there is less concern for me to pursue the band further. Granted it is important to know a variety of the music that is out there and not just the stuff I listen to, however when I don’t even enjoy listening to a particular band they tend to take a back burner to concern. Once I find that I enjoy a band’s musical style I then approach them with my own personal standards and the standards of the principals layed out in Scripture (which can be interpreted in many ways but can still be relevant to media discernment) and apply these standards to the lyrics and a general first impression. If the first impression rubs me the wrong way there really is ‘no getting over it’ for me because I don’t get turned off by much music after I get beyond stage one with them. Music is a