According to a report from Nielsen in 2014, the average American daily watches 5 hours of TV. To be more accurate: children between 2 and 11 spend more than 24 hours watching TV per week whereas adults watch over 33 hours. More than a mere image box, TV embodies mass media and has tended to make uniform minds of the audience since its commercialization by playing an influent social role. Moreover TV has been a powerful tool capable of “Americanizing” societies.
Television conveys mass communication, as a result of which TV dauntingly embodies mass media according to Marshall McLuhan. It tends to society uniformity by turning it into a “Global Village”. Especially through free public channels such as BBC, PBS or France Televisions, TV relentlessly turns out to be a noteworthy social institution beside family and school. Like a parent TV shows us when we have to laugh with Friends, to cry in front of box-office movies like Forest Gump or the maudlin Elephant Man, to get moved with Doctor Quinn or to get scared by watching Goosebumps. TV has popularized culture by continually giving us identical and repeated information, pictures and words.
TV ads also play a significant role by making our desires converge on a same point: according to a Nielson report, the average American would be daily exposed to over 1h of TV ads. TV ads drive us to want to consummate same products and the same way of life at last. There is no denying TV breeds a uniform society, but above all a society taking the American life as a example.
Indeed TV worldwide globalizes our ways of life, particularly trough American series such as The Simpson, Friends, How I met your mother or Sex and the City, leading to a so-called “Americanization”. Indeed the success of American series has tended to a cultural homogeneity by teaching us English, encouraging us to wear blue jeans, to drink Coke and to dream of America. Those very series convey individualism and success notions which are the hallmark of the “American way of life”, whose characters have an enviable life: Carrie Bradshaw (Sex and the City), Gabriel Solis (Desperate Housewives) and so on… The crux of TV has made all of us dream of a rich and flashy American life, albeit not much gritty.
Like an occidental mass media, television socially standardizes worldwide ways of life and moreover “Americanizes” societies by making our dreams entwine with American ones. It also makes our minds be embedded in American mentality and overshadows other cultures. However the hegemony of the Internet tends to challenge this vision by opening new paths to a cultural mosaic.
Text inspired by the Nielson Report of 2014
Étudiant à l'École de Management de l'Institut Mines-Télécom.
Consultant en communication freelance.