Psychology and the Media
Why are we attracted to certain genres in the media, such as the fantasy or crime drama genres? Obviously, the characters and plotlines are fictional, but for a time, the consumer will suspend disbelief in order to be entertained. One of the reasons the media, such as movies, old radio dramas, books, and even graphic novels, has such an appeal is that for a time, we can suspend reality. A good example is the immensely successful movie trilogy The Lord of the Rings, adapted from the book written by J. R. R. Tolkien, one of the most read authors of the twentieth century. Another example is the television crime drama, such as NCIS, CSI, Bones, Castle, and The Mentalist, which has a typical main plotline (usually involving a murder investigation) with some character conflict for a subplot. Within an hour (sometimes two), the murder is solved and the guilty party is caught. This serial genre predates television and even the radio dramas of the 1930s–1950s by about forty years (late 1890s), when newspapers and magazines carried serials, such as Sherlock Holmes.
What is the fascination and attraction with fiction in all its forms from books to television/movies to video games?
Explain why a person would suspend disbelief for a time. Some may say that suspending disbelief for a time can also lead to issues with differentiating fantasy from reality. Explain the difference between suspension of reality and having problems separating out fantasy from reality.
Justify your answers with appropriate reasoning and research from your text and course readings.
Television comedies of the 1950s and the 1960s, such as Leave It to Beaver and The Andy Griffith Show, were very popular during those days and continue to be aired in syndication (to see some episodes, perform an Internet search for TV Land: Watch Full Episodes). Each show, however, had some significant issues in terms of stereotypes and the inclusion of race and ethnic diversity. Britain’s Last of the Summer Wine, which began in 1973, holds the record as the longest-running situation comedy in television history (even longer than The Simpsons). The show centers around three retired men whose antics get them into some funny predicaments. It is unique because even though it is about three men in the latter part of their lives, it is about how active their lives are. The portrayal of older adults (those over sixty-five years) on television in the United States seems to have a different take.
Why do television programs like these succeed not only in production but also in syndication? Is there a difference with regard to the portrayal of minorities between the shows of the 1950s and the 1960s and the programs of the 1990s and now? If so, what are the differences?
Based on your general observations, how does American television portray older adults? Provide some specific examples of older adults on television and the common stereotypes for this group in the United States.