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Unformatted text preview: (Explanation) TELEVISION'S REALITY WARP George Gerbner, dean of the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School of Communications, is perhaps the nation's leading authority on the social impact of television. For some twenty years, from 1967 to 1987, he and his assistants videotaped and thoroughly analyzed some four thousand prime-time programs involving more than sixteen thousand characters. They then drew up multiplechoice questionnaires that offered correct answers about the world at large along with answers that represented what Gerbner saw as misrepresentations and biases of the world according to television. These questions were posed to a wide sampling of citizens of all ages, educational backgrounds, and socioeconomic strata. In every survey the Annenberg team found that heavy viewers of television (those watching more than four hours a day), who make up about one-third of the population, typically chose the television- influenced answers, whereas light viewers (those watching fewer than two hours a day) selected the answers corresponding more closely to actual life. Here's a summary of some of the dimensions of television's warped representation of reality as of 1987: [ 2] Gender: 1. Male prime-time characters outnumbered females by three to one. 2. Women were usually depicted as weak, passive satellites to powerful, effective men. 3. TV males generally played a variety of roles, whereas females were portrayed as lovers or mothers. 4. Less the 20 percent of TV's married women with children worked outside the home. In real life more than 50 percent did. Conclusions: Television's distortions reinforced stereotypical attitudes and sexism. An Annenberg survey showed that heavy viewers were far more likely than light ones to feel that women should stay at home and leave the running of the country to men. Age: 1. People over 65 were generally underrepresented on TV. 2. Old people were typically portrayed as silly, stubborn, sexually inactive, and eccentric. Conclusions: Again stereotypes were reinforced. Heavy viewers tended to believe that the elderly make up a smaller portion of the population today than two decades previously. In fact old people were and are the fastest growing age group. Heavy viewers also believed old people to be less healthy today than twenty years previously, whereas the opposite was and continues to be the truth: Old people as a group continue to enjoy healthier lives....
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- Summer '11