Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Traditional Culture (Culture, Communication and Folk Media)

Where the excessively used form of mediums for mass communication like Print media, Electronic media (audio and audio-visual) has proved its existence and importance since centuries, the importance of folk media too is undeniable.   Where print media, electronic media and online media forms involves and attracts mostly the modern mass, traditional folk media is the main source of communication for the rural masses. And the importance of it can be drawn and understood from the considerable popularity of the traditional folk media among the rural masses of the developing country like India. Traditional folk media generally consists of folk songs and music, folk dances, Drama and theatre, Puppetry shows, street plays and theatres etc. Traditional Folk Media especially is popular for cultivating and catering the demands of rural illiterate and backward masses. Especially the part of the population who do not hold the ability to read and write and also the ones for whom the modern mass medium is easily accessible in terms of both reach and money. It has been stated a very influential medium for creating and triggering a very strong position in the rural people’s mind. It has the ability to educate, inform and entertain the masses thereby leaving a long lasting impression on people’s mind. Hence it gives them a platform to learn, discuss and aware themselves about the outer worlds and their cultures with the strong retention and recalling ability. Traditional Folk Media reinforces the importance of one’s culture and also is influential enough to popularise it on the international platforms. 
Some of extremely popular Traditional Folk Media forms are Tamasha, Powada, Keertana, Nautakin, Jatra, Bhavai, Therukoothu, Ramlila and Raslila, Street Theatre, Puppetry stories.

Advantages of Folk Media:
ü  It presents the idea, facts and thoughts of the respective society, community and culture in a very pleasurable and enjoyable manner.
ü  Traditional folk media due to its roots and familiarity with the targeted audience can mould and motivate numerous unwary and illiterate for a major setback and change.
ü  It is easy to comprehend medium to convey the message. It makes the presentation easy, quick and understandable.
ü  It conveys the informative idea with lot of entertainment thus creating the retention value for the content.
ü  Due to the minimum accessibility to the mass media like newspaper, radio and television in rural society, traditional folk media predominates on the rural masses.
ü  It is considered as the most credible form of medium because it includes ‘face-to-face’ presentations and portrayal. It is a live medium unlike television and radio.
(It has significantly contributed in various development programmes initiated and under taken by the state government in the past like ‘Family Welfare’, ‘Children Education’ etc.) 

 Role of Traditional Folk Media in promoting the culture of any community
v  It is the suitable form of mass medium that represents its cultural values and beliefs in a very entertaining form. Thus it helps people to recognize, understand, know, analyse and retain the intricacies of one’s culture.
v  Folk media due to its significant reach preserves and transmits cultural traditions and values to the next generation. It produces and distributes cultural products to the large no. of people seeking knowledge, information and entertainment especially in rural communities.
v  Folk media acts as the mover of the rural education and culture in one hand and ‘surveillant’ of the rural society the other hand.
v  Folk Media carry a diverse message of education, political, social, healthcare and agricultural innovation, as to inform and educate the rural citizens.
v  Folk Media has compensated for the wider in coverage by the modern mass medium to overcome and build the communication gap.
v  As Folk media do not necessarily have to maintain any decorum and protected status like other mediums of mass communication, it all audiences to come closer to such media considerably well.
v  It maintains the specifications and actuality of the message to be delivered. Hence, It adds more value to the existing cultural norms and principles.
v  Through its various forms, Folk media delivers the very essence of its values, beliefs, traditions, rituals and customs in a way that signifies its importance and the reason of its existence and evolution throughout the generations.

v  It gives an identity to a community thereby distinguishing it from the others.              

Media as Social Determinant-Real Reality no longer a 'reality'

“Virtual Reality vs Real Reality” as a concept talks about the way a consumer consumes the media content. Today there are varieties of media systems available. But a modern consumer is more dependent on audio visual medium thereby making it the major source of information available. Call it the nature of media or the acceptance of the media, which is responsible for making the dearest medium of all. Anything on screen seems more real as compared to other mediums. But the question is how real is the reality on screen which is trying to influence the societies at large. There are certain factors which affect the portrayal on screen and even the concepts like reality shows, reality on screen don’t represents real realities on screen. Few of them are for instance the impact of the process of production itself. Even there is a cut to transfer to another scene effects the reality behind the scene. The complex process of film making itself transforms the actual reality to virtual reality which no longer entertains the very concept of ‘reality’, the perceptions; certain view points and opinions; judgments; notions; pre-existing beliefs and ideas  of the film makers also effects the very concept of Real reality. A film maker will always try to portray on screen whatever supports his ideologies and beliefs even if not intentionally that comes automatically in the end product. There remains an influence of the film maker’s personal opinion on whatever and whichever way he wants a character to be played upon on screen. Then the factor that affects the reality on screen majorly is the limited access of the medium itself to the ones who are involved in the process of communication. Reality generally holds and supports variety of opinions. Supposedly two people can have different opinion on a certain issue and both the opinions are important and considerable to analyse the actual situation but it may happen that only one among them gets a chance or rather say can afford to get a chance to come on screen and presents his viewpoint. And this happens more in the case of electronic media because audio visual medium due to its nature demands the expensive infrastructure to produce which is not possible for all to arrange for. So ideally only the ones who can, decides what is important for us or what is not. Other than that the past experiences of the film makers tells them what usually attracts audiences or what bores them or what is usually welcomed by viewers so due to such constraints they limit themselves only in producing the similar type of content which is mostly liked and accepted. For instance an era when Saas Bahu serials were liked, the programmes with the same story lines and concepts were the part of television. When Reality shows started to emerge, there was a flood of such shows on TV. So ideally the effect of these factors can be lessened only on by ensuring the fair usage of all the media’s available. Exposure to alternative media, inclusion of first hand information’s without any intrusion of artificial set ups can balance the information and ensures the better form of communication for a better society set up.

Media as Social Determinant- Overdose of Violence by Mass Media

Violence overdose criticizes the very concept of portraying any type of violence on screen. It critically reviews and talks on the concept of making audience aware of the violence existing through mass media. Mass media since ages has certainly claimed that through creating certain programmes, it tries to aware people of the forms of violence around and how to tackle through it. But it argues on a point that when it tries to reinforce something through all forms of media continuously one after another. It starts affecting the society the other way around. The overdose of the violent content on screen on the other hand starts forming a view point which can totally change the way one pictures a society. Because of such programmes on screen, people have different notions of the societies in their mind. And because the notion itself is so violent, it doesn’t let the other person do well to the society thereby giving birth to the concept of violent society in the never ending process. There is the overdose of such violent content in newspapers, periodicals, and magazines and rather even online. Pick up any newspaper in the morning, there are generally pages dedicated to report these crime stories every day. Rather the graphical representation of the chronological event of a crime incites violence of a sort in the minds of consumers. I would like to share a personal example regarding the influence of violence overdose by media. My father is a dedicated viewer of ‘Saawdhan India’ a reality show which is telecasted everyday on LifeOK an entertainment television channel. He has certainly started seeing everyone with the same eye as characters are usually portrayed on screen. He keeps warning me about the society around citing how every another relationship shown in that show tries to fraud and fool around the girls especially to seek sexual gains. Even before stepping out of home, he reminds me about what all was shown in the last day’s episode and how the society has turned so evil. And always it is even more surprising for me to know the extent of influence that show has on him that he believes each and every story portrayed there. Being a student of mass communication and film studies, I certainly analyse it as a viewer whose view point is very different from him. The idea is that it is very important for us as viewers to analyse the kind of information mass media shares with us. It is even more important to be an intelligent viewer who knows what information is accurate to what extent and how to synthesize it. With the similar examples, we can measure the extent of effect mass media can have on children’s psychology. They try to resolve situations as the resolutions are suggested by media and thus they start understanding the life media projects them with.  The problem with the overdose of violent content on television can definitely be resolved by control viewing and by changing the concept to literally aware audience rather than explaining the violence through depicting stories which can have adverse effect on their minds.

Media Forming New Societies

Today with the over exposure to the media content, mass media’s continuous evolvement and growth has started determining the structures of the society. It has started suppressing the existing norms and beliefs pertaining to the form of societies in a civilization. Thus it has a major role to play in forming new societies all together.  There have been various studies conducted already on the same subjects by numerous communicators. The first of its kind was undertaken by Dr. George Gerbner in the United States when he tried analyzing the influence of mass media especially of the audio-visual cinema in structuring the new form of societies. His studies have already proven that television as a medium incites violence in the society. It has given a new meaning to the word violence is understood and replied back in a society. He tried citing the logical by differentiating between ‘Light Viewer’ and ‘Heavy Viewer’.  According to Gurbner, Mass media has its major influence in shaping the view point of a heavy viewer which is definitely determined by his over consumption of media. A heavy viewer would always react to a particular situation in an alike manner it is portrayed on the television. For a heavy viewer the society’s idea by so far would be of the same as an ideal structure of society is portrayed on television. Whereas for a Light Viewer, the idea of reality and reel(ity) differs. A light viewer would always consume media for a purpose by restricting his choices to programmes like news, documentaries etc. Thus in the same article there are certain concepts which are important to understand to determine the effect of media on society at large.

Media and Child Psychology is the another concept that is widely considered while discussing the role of mass media as social determinant. There have been numerous studies conducted on measuring the impact of television on children. The easy availability of the mass media and its content and its rapidly increasing access and reach is creating a universal child viewer. This is forming an identical category for all the societies where every child is exposed to the similar type of content through mass media and thus has the similar view points and notions regarding societies existing at all levels. The main interests of the children are guided by the mass media’s entertaining form. Dance, music, acting, glamour, movies, sports, fiction, quiz programmes and reality shows all are the resultant of the increased interest among audience especially children. Due to the limited or rather no access to the niche programmes developed only on for the children, they are exposed the same content as to the regular viewer sometimes also to the type which their psychological constraints makes impossible to filter there by creating false notions or entirely misguided reactions. Such actions on the part of media give emergence to the societal structure which promotes harmful and violent lifestyle. This incites certain non required mental and physical actions. The impact of media on the psychology of the children has a lot to filter out and synthesize before feeding them with any type of content. Thus it should be done with utmost care as it involves playing with the innocent minds which doesn’t hold an ability to analyse the actual ideas behind certain concepts.
Quantity versus Quality concept talks about the ever argued issue whether its good or bad for children to watch excessive television. We as mass media academicians never ask our students to not to watch television. We rather tell them to be updated to the mass media content so I believe its not at all about watching too much television but its more about what is being watched or consumed. So it is very important to analyse the way the content is programmed on television rather television as a medium is a socially integrative medium which shares knowledge and bring societies together. So its not the quantity that effects rather it’s the quality of the content.

Tube Trap concept talks about the way media tries to play with the psyche of viewers due to the easy availability of video entertainment. The presentation of violence through these video programmmes certainly affects the viewers mindset about a society portrayed through those programmes. Due to the rapid increase of cable television, it is highly possible for viewers to fall into the trap which certainly influences individual integrity and social stability. It determines and analyse the idea behind the consumption of mass media by consumers. Ideally for the children and even adults the reason for watching television is the same that they try to escape  from their every day problem; as a mean of diversion; for relaxation and companionship; to learn about things or even as a habit. So when a viewer starts relating himself to the characters projected on screen, it certainly effects the value formation of individual for a society