A recent media report on social media still shows a huge portion of Australia's population are avid television consumers. The advertisements are indicative of such a statistic, and many children watch television shows (and the accompanying advertisements) directly aimed at them.
Two years ago I asked the question: do the television shows we watch say more than we think? Is there more than meets the eye in the messages they convey? Moreover, we must also consider the impact this directive programming has on children.
I feel there often is great and lengthy discussion about the increasing prevalence of more extreme content in popular media and the effects of that, such as 'is it normalising this behaviour?'
However, an aspect I feel is often left neglected is consideration of the ideologies and the meanings that are implied, as opposed to explicitly stated, in the media we consume.
An example of this can be seen by comparing some stories of a popular British sci-fi series (no prizes for guessing this one). In the early years, from the 1960s to the late 1980s, the stories often revolved around mankind being saved by an extra-terrestrial being, e.g. not human or even more than human, as they were unable to save themselves and often continued to botch things up along the way.
While elements of this still continue we see a shift, where, there are good people and bad people and the good people only really require a bit of help and they can get the job done.
In other words humanity really isn't so bad after all.
While I'm not saying that this is a terrible message and this show should be ripped from our television screensâI would be most disappointed if that happenedâI do feel it's important that we take some responsibility to examine what is being implied by the stories we consume.
In identifying the implied meanings of the media we watch we can maintain a critical assessment of what we are watching.
Being critical requires us to understand why or why do we not agree with an idea. This helps to inform our understanding of why we think the way we do and why others think the way they do.
So in many ways I'm not saying that the implied meanings of shows are unhelpful, but more, that it is important and, more so, helpful to be aware.
For instance considering the meaning behind much of today's popular media sheds light on what our society's common values are: do you actually agree with them? Why or why not?
By examining what we see we can build a better picture of what our society is valuing and what we think about that. This helps us to form answers to any questions about our lives with an answer that hopefully deals with the question we are really being asked.
I hope this has encouraged you to be critical and discerning in how you watch television, or read, or listen, and the like. Keep an eye out for the meaning in between the lines and pay attention to what doesn't meet the eye on television. This is especially so for our children.
Sam Gillespie is a composer and a computer programmer based in Sydney.
Sam Gillespie's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/sam-gillespie.html