“Raised to be stupid, taught to be nothing at all”.
While Marilyn Manson wasn’t ranting necessarily about media and the media effects theory in his 1998 song, this quote and the message of it ring true to what the theory stands for. People are mindless drones that will believe whatever you tell them.
It’s a head scratching, mind-boggling conundrum that we’ve suddenly found ourselves in, due to the ever-changing landscape of the media. People are quite happy to shift the blame onto the mass media for their social problems, yet take no responsibility for their own actions. Whilst this feels completely ridiculous in its notion, is it completely unfounded?
The Joseph Kony 2012 video is the epitome of the modern-day hypodermic needle theory. It transported Orson Wells’s recreation in to a 21st century context. For a brief moment in time people cared about who Kony was and felt empathetic to the plight of the Ugandan people. This mass media shot in the arm changed the view of many with seemingly no other evidence other than Invisible Children’s case.
The problem with this view is that it contextually leaves out so much explanation as to why this campaign was successful, whilst doing little more than this…
Context is constantly the thing that is left out when we bandy around the idea of media effects. The problem is that people want a causal relationship between the media and an issue instead of looking elsewhere for issues that may contribute. As David Gauntlett notes the backward social mapping of this issue often contributes to the unsubstantiated link to the media. Far more Socio – Cultural issues (Socio – Economic status, gender, race, background etc) seemingly have effects on these issues rather than the media.
While the media undeniably has some effect on the public it has without question been overstated. So, how should we view the media effects model and hypodermic needle theory?
Probably less needle, more ointment.