If someone had mentioned “The hypodermic needle theory” to me a couple of months ago, I probably would have assumed they were discussing the concept of illicit drug injecting rooms.
The ‘hypodermic needle theory’ insinuates that people are influenced by what they see and hear in mass media, which is justifiably to blame for the bad behavior of its audience. (Puri, 2011) Through creating my own blogs and interacting with those of my peers, I have gained a much broader insight into the role of different forms of media and the role they play in influencing public discourse.
In her blog, Veronica Cremen (2014) provided an excellent example of how a simple, yet controversial Coca-Cola advertisement can generate debate within the mediated public sphere. We are influenced to discuss a wide range of issues from many different media forms.
Whilst public discourse is influenced by mass media, the actions of individuals cannot be directly attributed to themes and ideologies expressed within various media forms. During research for my blog post “Is Disney making my child gay?” I discovered that a movie directed at a wide niche audience, is unjustifiably being blamed for influencing the sexuality children. It seems that children have been at risk of being influenced by Disney for decades.
Another peer of mine, Breanna O’Neill (2014) commented on the way feminists have over time, directed blame at certain Disney films for portraying the traditional female character in the relentless pursuit of true love. The films cannot be blamed for influencing young girls into thinking that this is the collective female ideology.
Whilst on the subject of children, lets consider the topic of the sexualisation of children, which is a highly debated topic within the mediated public sphere. In 2011, the following headline was published to highlight the apparent sexualisation of young girls with the sale of padded bikini tops. (Gallagher, 2011)
It is clear to see that the aim of this headline was to incite moral panic and influence public discourse. Are paedophiles really bothered with whether or not that little girl’s bikini top is padded? Sexual based connotations are discussed worldwide, and it seems their occurrence is increasing exponentially over time. Recently, Liz Hurley was highly criticised for her widely advertised, animal print bikini line for children. Judge for yourself here.
The portrayal of children and the exploitation of their innocence is an appropriate example of how images are interpreted, and their connotations identified, based on the ideologies of different participants in public discourse. This is fuelled by the increasing moral need to protect the innocent image of the child.
As a result of the blog posting exercise, I am more conscious about the origins of the information I am being given. I am also more inclined to actively question the agenda of the author or presenter, rather than just willingly accept an injection of information to the brain.
I think that it is imperative for a consumer of mass media to consider any implied message imposed on them by a text, and consider how and why they form their opinions on issues presented within those texts.
The mass media provide the drug, it is up to us to question where it comes from, and decide whether it is safe to take.
Cremen, V., 2014, ‘Coca-Cola on drugs?’ Veronica Cremen, web blog post, 24th March 2014, viewed 8th April 2014, <http://veronicacrem.wordpress.com/2014/03/24/coca-cola-on-drugs/comment-page-1/#comment-26>.
Gallagher, V., ‘Retailers sign up to responsible retailing guide for kids wear,’ Retail Week, 6th June 2011, viewed 14th April 2014, <http://www.retail-week.com/topics/csr/retailers-sign-up-to-responsible-retailing-guide-for-kidswear/5025894.article>.
O’Neil, B., 2014, “Beauty and No Brain,’ Breanna O’Neil, web blog post, 9th April 2014, viewed 11th April 2014, <http://breannaoneil.wordpress.com/2014/04/09/beauty-and-no-brain/comment-page-1/#comment-8>
Puri, S., 2011, ‘Hypodermic Needle Theory (Magic Bullet Theory),’ Media and Journalism studies,’ web blog post, 2nd February 2011, viewed 11th April 2014, <http://sonamjourno.blogspot.com.au/2011/02/hypodermic-needle-theory-magic-bullet.html>.