Culture is learned behavior. By individuals. Of a given group or groups.
Culture is learned behavior
Our personal culture comes from the traditions, lifestyles, and shared experiences of our lives.
We learn culture from people around us. Cultural anthropologists often refer to this as "storytelling". People gather around the fire and learn about life and learn how to live from the stories passed down by our families and our village elders.
But the "campfire" has changed as society changed. From campfire to front porch or parlor, from parlor to church socials, from church to radio to television to films to video games to the internet, the "campfire" keeps evolving. We explore the changing nature of campfires later in the course.
Both "Godfather" and "The Sopranos" tell the story of families under pressure. Are they mirrors to our society? Are they warnings to take heed of? Are they models to follow? What do we learn from their stories?
When people talk about the "decline in family values", they often mean that the culture of one generation is not being passed down to the next.
They fear that "the media" has replaced the family as the storyteller.
Their fear is increased by a perceived degrading of "values" by the media.
They fear that programs viewed, movies watched, songs listened to will negatively influence people. The media shows people doing "bad" things with no punishment. Consequently, the people consuming the media will be encouraged to do "bad" things.
There we are, huddled around the tribal campfire, telling and retelling the stories of our people.
"For me, as a parent of three young children and as a longtime teacher, the loss of innocence at too early an age is perhaps the highest price that American kids pay in this new media environment. Ever since the Hays Office began monitoring Hollywood morals in the 1920's, Americans have worried about the media's impact on "family values."
But before our mass-media culture became so explicit and so pervasive, before large media companies began to realize huge profits by pushing sex and sensationalism, things were different. Parents were much better able to control what their children learned about and when."
Steyer recommends parents monitor and control their children's media consumption. But he also recommends they organize advocacy groups, contact government leaders, and boycott media outlets that target children with inappropriate content. In terms we'll discuss later, Steyer recommends aggressive "gatekeeping" to keep content he considers inappropriate off the air.
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