Thursday, April 24, 2008

Jung at heart: The media's role in identification

This is going to be a two-part discussion. This first part takes a look at the negative aspects of identification being influenced by the media. The next part will look at the "positives", which are not really positives, but more like inevitable and necessary elements in society. If possible, I'll try to link some ideas back to Jung and his ideas about stereotypes, but if I fail to, you should go and do some worthwhile research.

Stereotypes is not an uncommon topic in discussions revolving around the media. In particular, much concern is raised about the images portrayed and how impressionable youngsters mimic and mirror them. Just yesterday, my girlfriend showed me some music videos from the newly established group, Girlicious. Everything about the video, and I do mean everything, screamed skanky and only worked to degenerate females. I mean, the song was called "Stupid Shit" and it features the barely legal girls strutting their stuff in school girl uniforms before a whole bunch of other girls join them and they all strip to their skivvies.

From this, it is easy to see why people are voicing so much concern. It's easy for me and maybe older teens, say those 16 and older, to recognize that the entire Girlicious thing makes no real sense and is silly and stupid overall. When the group was still a reality TV show, I recall the producer eliminating girls for being too trashy and saying that they're looking for something classy. Honestly, I can't really tell the difference.

When the Spice Girls was initially formed, their target market was girls 14 and older. However, they failed to hit their target market, namely for the same reasons that Girlicious is looking so terrible to me right now. Instead, Spice Girls were popular with a new demographic, the Tweens. The Tweens represent those beTWEEN the stages of childhood and adolescence (aka teenagers). Typically the age group would be 10-12 and, strangely or not so strangely, this group is prominent and easy to identify with girls but not boys. While boys stay immature well into their twentys (some say), girls do go through various stages that marketers have found to have pronounced differences in consumer behaviour.

As I mentioned before, those already in their teens are old enough to recognize the absurdity in these commercial images. However, those in their tweens are not. Instead, they desire to move quickly out of childhood and into adulthood and look at the Spice Girls and Girlicious as a model that they can copy. The biggest issue surrounding this, is that behaviour affected eventually becomes behaviour rationalized. That is, even if one is just acting out a behaviour without a reason behind it, eventually they will develop a mindset to rationalize that behaviour, formally and permanently adopting that behaviour as their own. This is the biggest concern because it means that the teens of tomorrow will actually be like what we see in the Spice Girls and Girlicious. In fact, the reason why the level of skankiness has stepped up to where it is today is because the level had been breached and adopted in the past. Without the adoption, the level would have just been maintained and re-packaged for the same age group year after year.

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