“Mass communicators have three basic reasons for sending messages: to inform or educate, to entertain, to persuade.”
One of the most respected and prolific scholars on the subject of love, Yale psychology and education professor Robert J. Sternberg, has acknowledged that no single definition describes love throughout the ages or across cultures. Although philosophers, theologians, and poets have investigated the nature of love for centuries, love research as a scientific field is relatively new in the wider array of disciplines that now investigate love — social and behavioral psychology, sociology, cultural anthropology, human communication, women’s studies, men’s studies, family studies, evolutionary biology, and mass communication. For these experts as well as for the general public, love means different things to different people at different historical periods and in different cultures.
Whether we like to admit it or not, the mass media are powerful socialization agents that rely on simplification, distortions of reality, and dramatic symbols and stereotypes to communicate messages from which consumers learn and model many behaviors — both healthy and unhealthy.
– Mary-Lou Galician, “Dis-illusioning” as Discovery: The Research Basis and Media Literacy Applications of Dr. FUN’s Mass Media Love Quiz and Dr. Galician’s Prescriptions” – Critical Thinking About Sex, Love, and Romance in the Mass Media: Media Literacy Applications (Routledge Communication Series)
Dr. Galician contends that “it is important to study the consequences of the media’s dissemination of unrealistic but normalized portrayals and of the public’s adoption of these portrayals as models.”
Moreover, unrealistic expectations are linked to dissatisfaction in actual coupleship. Unrealistic expectations and stereotypes are held by large numbers of women and men. The societal and personal costs of such dysfunctions are enormous, including not merely unhappiness but also serious emotional harm and physical harm from depression, abuse, and violence.
I agree with Dr. Galician’s theory that unrealistic, mythic and stereotypic portrayals of sex, love, and romance adverseley affect males to the same degree as they affect females. The very basic stereotypes of male and female archetypes are prevalent in all forms of media, including the type I am most active in, social media. I come across images, statements, and observations daily that I take issue with. The battle of the sexes rages daily on social networks like Twitter and Facebook.
Have I mentioned how excited I am about the content of this course? I am not sure if we will be covering all the chapters in Critical Thinking, but if we don’t, I know I will be reading them on my own. This book has chapters examining Zora Neale Hurston, Maid in Manhattan, Golden Girls, The Sopranos, The Bachelor, reality television shows, and Valentine’s Day, all in the context of how they portray sex, love and romance.
“Your problem is that you’re looking for a knight-in-shining-armor, but no man in his right man would consider you a damsel-in-distress.”
– from Dr. FUN’s video presentation “What Men & Women Want” (a private video unfortunately, or I’d link it)
Dr Watts, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, said: “People down the ages have always tried to capture and pigeonhole love. The evidence suggests, however, that love is historically and culturally variable. There is no one true or definitive account of love, rather there are a limited and interconnected variety of love stories at work in any particular culture. It’s okay for love to differ across relationships and to change its character with the passage of time – it’s equally acceptable for us to change our views of love as we go along.”
– Nottingham Trent University, Love is…
According to the Nottingham study, I have previously believed in the following types of love: Mutual Trust, Recognition and Support; Hedonistic Love; and Love as Ultimate Connection and Profound Feeling.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m taking Dr FUN’s Sex, Love and Romance in the Mass Media course this semester at ASU. She authored one text and edited the other with a collaborator.
I was eager to take this class because I believe that a large problem with relationships today is the attempt to fit some sort of cultural norm, whatever that norm may be. These norms have been sold to us by mass media, and they dictate what people feel a relationship should look like or be.
“Romantic love and mass media share a long association,” says Galician.
She further educates that the word romance itself “dates from 12th century ‘courtly love’ romans (French for ‘stories’), first disseminated to the masses by troubadours — precursors, in a sense, of modern mass media recording artists — and later by the very first mass medium’s early chapbooks and romance novels (Stone, 1988).”
The class itself is set up in ten modules which stretch across our 7.5 week semester. Each module contains multiple sessions which are broken up into an assigned reading, a video presentation and follow up readings and links. There is a ton of information to study and learn, but it is all very interesting and gives me a lot of jump off points for my personal studies.
There is an optional extra credit reflection assignment for each module, and although I plan to complete those for course credit, I would also like to share my learning and thoughts here in a sort of course journal format.
These may come in the form of longer written posts, links, quotes, videos etc, and to make it easier to find them for future reference, they will be listed under the Sex, Love and Romance in the Mass Media topic on the site.
If anything I plan to share here is a part of my assignment response as well, I will wait until I have received my final grade for the assignment before I post them, because I do not want to be accused of plagiarizing myself. I will disclose in the post if the content appeared in my turned in assignment.
Losing an illusion makes you wiser than finding a truth.
— Ludwig Borne, 19th Century German political writer