A brief essay on how International Corporations use mass media to perpetuate their ideals of globalization into culture and acceptance, by Matthew Gooch
Companies, through lobbying, use the mass media to encourage trends of globalization and corporatism in a biased, misleading way. Lobbying is a serious problem in the American government and influences governments towards a “global village,” whether they’re willing or not. Globalization is the movement of everything to a global scale, though the term is more commonly directed toward economics and the removal of trade barriers. The mass media creates culture and reflects society’s self-image. However, the reflection is tainted with ripples of influence from corporations and networks through the granting or removal of private funding, which controls what the mass sees in today’s media. We Americans are constantly forcefully told what to think about and what they should consider important. Furthermore, we are being misinformed by the mass media, mainly by news stations, which are controlled by corporations.
There is a domino effect which corporations use in order to sell their products more successfully. Corporations slowly buy our ideas of what is common through the use of brand names. For example: I see my friend wearing a shirt I like, I plainly recognize the logo as that of a major company I have seen many times before, so I assume that by going to that logo’s outlet and purchasing their merchandise I am guaranteed the same fashion sense and popularity as the many other people I see wearing the same logo. The ironic part about this is that my friend only bought it because he saw a celebrity on T.V. wearing it and thought it looked interesting. That celebrity was almost certainly paid to wear the shirt as a form of advertisement. This is best explained by saying that we are always being shown the product and never the process. Specifically, if fast food corporations showed the process of how they produce fast food, no one would want it. Since we are only shown the outcome of many different processes and not means, we are at the mercy of corporations.
Though some may argue that corporations are simply providing what Americans ask for, the truth is that they are doing what we request without showing us how, and that is what the problem is. Imagine if people could live in an almost utopian society free of crime, poverty, sickness and any other inconvenience to you. Would people be willing to do it if it meant the suffering of hundreds of others? What if they never had to know others were suffering, completely distracting themselves with things and activities of a wealthy lifestyle, full of conveniences such as the ability to talk to people who aren’t physically present or the ability to cover mass distances of land quickly and with ease, or maybe the ability to have a selection of delicious foods made within minutes. The list of American conveniences goes on and on. There is no such thing as a free meal, although with little physical labor you can get paid well and get one for very cheap. Is anybody willing to give up the American lifestyle so that others may benefit? Even if someone is, will our government care enough to really change? The people that are benefiting the most are usually the ones with the most power.
Globalization is a trend that would help create a utopian society if it was2 applied properly. Bringing all economic and trading practices to the same level is impossible without the higher practices losing some privileges. The problem is that the more privileged masses are not willing to sacrifice things to whole societies of people they don’t know. The news media almost always avoids news casts of suffering societies and what really happens to places America goes to war with. Avoiding the negative impacts of our governmental influence is something that wasn’t just used in the mid 1900’s during WWII it’s something that is used to this day, and more than people might think. Propaganda is in advertising everywhere, one brand saying its better than another brand because of some really new development that only they have. Even Lobbying could be considered a form of propaganda in most situations.
Lobbying is currently preventing accurate non biased information from reaching the eyes and ears of the American populous. The only way corporations can influence the mass is through the media. Furthermore, advertisements try to tell us what to think or how to feel about their products and services. Therefore, corporations, through the use of the media, argue that they have to make money. When a major fund raiser like Phillip Morris tells a television company that if they show an anti-smoking ad, the broadcasting corporation will lose funding from a cigarette company usually ranging in the millions, they won’t show an anti smoking ad; that would be illegal for a corporation is an entity with basic laws it must follow.
“There are rules that a corporation must heed in order to survive. These rules apply to publicly-traded corporations and privately-owned corporations.” “The proposed rules of corporate behavior are as follows: Profit [A loss of funding would be a loss in profit ultimately.], Growth [Once a corporation has capitalized a nation the only other growth is that of international growth (hence why corporatism is so closely related to Globalization.)], Amorality, Hierarchy, Quantification, Linearity, Segmentation, Competition and Aggression
[Maybe that explains why the U.S. is so Market Driven.], Dehumanization [How’s this for dehumanizing; “American corporations hire workers right and left and build new plants all over whenever the market is bullish [booming], in an attempt to maximize their profits. Yet once the tide shifts, they lay off workers simply to protect company profits. These laid-off workers have nothing to do with poor market conditions.” (Morita)] Exploitation, Ephemerally, Opposition to Nature [does this mean they like to pollute?], Homogenization.” (Wikipedia)
The corporate leaders are some of the richest people in the world; so rich that they could literally buy almost anything they want. People that have so much money that they could never spend it all. “The gap between rich and poor is enormous. Only one percent of the population controls 36% of the national wealth, an outrageous condition that should somehow be corrected” (Morita). Akio Morita is a very straightforward writer that talks about international relations and how governments are evolving he especially discusses Japan and the United States. A quote from time.com read,”He [Akio Morita] made Sony a trusted name everywhere, because a company without borders is one without limit.” (www.time.com/time/time100/builder/profile/morita.html)
Corporations, through advertising, are always telling watchers and listeners what they should value, what they should think about, what they should have in order to be accepted, and constantly tells us how we should feel about most things. All of this is done in a subliminal way that directs people’s attention away from questioning why we should believe the information or ideas that are shown and addressed. Broadcasting stations simply show the same commercials over and over, all this does is constantly make people think about whatever is in the commercial. The more that people think about it the more it will influence people to do something about it.
Today’s media is not chosen as a way of purely information and news like it used to be; nowadays, the information is filtered and altered by many “middle-men.” Jean Seaton (a Professor of Media History at the University of Westminster in London) once noted that
“[…] journalists, who are better seen as bureaucrats than as buccaneers,
begin their work from a stock of plausible, well-defined and largely
unconscious assumptions. Part of their job is to translate untidy reality
into neat stories with beginnings, middles and denouements. […] The
values which inform the selection of news items usually reinforce
conventional opinions and established authority. At the same time, a
process of simplification filters out the disturbing or the unexpected.
The need of the media to secure instant attention creates a strong prejudice
in favor of familiar stories and themes, and a slowness of response when
reality breaks the conventions.”
The news media must be slightly entertaining for people to waste time watching it so it is dramatized and made into a story that compiles the viewer to become interested.
The media uses out of sight out of mind manipulation techniques. For example, if a person is always shown the same side of a topic, there is no reason why he/she should even consider the other side, or think that there even is another side to the story. The mass media is, as are all great manipulators, so skillful that most don’t even know they are being manipulated. The public and private lives of people in the West are beginning to mix together because of how convenient it is for you to find or communicate with someone who is not physically present. (McCombs)
This mixing together has been encouraged ever since the first modern city was build, Paris. It has rapidly increased over the last few years with “reality” shows that are always portraying how certain people act in their private lifestyle; or what was once their private lifestyle, now it is some mix of a private lifestyle made public. Paris was rebuilt at the start of modernity to incorporate a more public lifestyle and it was the first city rebuilt this way almost setting a precedent. With characteristics like bigger streets the people can now go out and walk amongst each other and groups of people can carry on conversations. Before all of this the streets were only wide enough to allow two or three people to walk next to each other. Although this creates a feeling of safety and promotes a social life, it also was done in the government’s favor to allow surveillance, to prevent the easy creation of blockades, and to make it harder to hide. Habermas relates to events occurring around the beginning of modernity, “At the same time, commercialization of the media will radically alter its characteristics, as it becomes merely a tool for political manipulation, largely dependent on satisfying advertisers, readers and information sources such as the government (Habermas).”
Advertising companies and corporations are now targeting more racial and ethnic categories in order to bring in a more profitable industry. In an effort to attract more support and business companies have made an effort to include American minorities in advertising ventures in an (successful) attempt to increase capital and support. By advertising commercials with such attributes as hip-hop music and the inclusion of minority Americans; companies attract more popularity and income from those minorities included. McDonalds is a perfect example of one such company. This not only allows companies to incorporate a broader American populous but should also aid in international sales since the commercials including more minorities obviously open more advertising overseas.
Although these international advertisements are usually a success corporations still have advertisements that are lacking in the respect they should have for other cultures: “McDonald’s has been forced to pull a commercial that shows a Chinese man kneeling before an electronics salesman begging for a discount […] In the ad, the man’s discount coupon has expired and the vendor turns him down. The advertisement goes on to say people do not have to beg to take advantage of a McDonald’s promotion.” (Forbes) Although the senior director at McDonald’s said he was just trying to use humor, 80% of Xian residents polled found it insulting: “One woman cited by Huashang Daily said it suggested the integrity of Chinese people was so poor they would get down on their knees to beg for a discount”( Forbes).
All of these things aid globalization and it is obvious to see that not all (in fact most) Americans don’t get to see both sides of globalization; but how can people expect a society that is constantly reinforced by the mass media to act and think a certain way to do anything else? The mass media doesn’t leave most things open for interpretation and the ideas and thoughts of others are displayed in fact form, although this is utterly uncanny it allows the mass media to influence culture to a point of mass consumerism. As Most people in America buy things they don’t need because of awe towards technological advances. People want to feel like they belong and our society has made the decision (with the not-so-gentle persuasion from corporations) that people who have the new fashionable things are the people that you should be hanging out with.
People in America want to be able to be as comfortable as possible without wanting to think about what or who was sacrificed for that comfort. If there is suffering elsewhere then at least it’s elsewhere and not here right? It appears that hardly anybody really cares about people in another country they don’t even know, especially if they don’t even have to know that other person is suffering, and how would they? The mass media isn’t going to show you something that will make people sad, how would they make their ratings (and money)? The only thing that I really would like to know is how so many Americans can live the type of lives they do while turning a blind eye to the millions of people suffering. If you liked this post stay tuned there will be more posts about this topic. If you use portions of this let me know, thanks.