Culturally Sensitive Television Programming
The vast reach of the television medium, and its high visual impact, has led to a great deal of debate on the influence of television programming content in molding cultural and societal values. The controversy is particularly heated in countries such as the United States, which has a large migrant population from all over the world. While commercial television has developed into offering different population segments a choice of ethnic channels and programming, the fact still remains that an eclectic mix of culturally and linguistically diverse groups view mainstream television. The aforesaid fact, along with the current, important social agenda of eliminating all racial and ethnic discrimination, has raised the question of whether mainstream television has a responsibility to restrict its language and content in response to cultural sensitivities. Social activists contend that television has the power to communicate the norms and values of a society and to that extent, the medium must play its due role in bringing down social barriers by influencing Americans to become more open and sensitive to other cultures. Pro-choicers, on the other hand, point to the principles of freedom of thought, speech, and exp
For after all, democracy works precisely because it expects itsinstitutions, commercial enterprise, and citizens to be guided by a socialconscience and sense of responsibility in exercising the freedom it offers. Thinking about theissue, it is my personal view that both sides of the argument has its ownmerit, and the answer probably lies somewhere in between such polarizedviews. Indeed, it is this very power that has resulted in many acountry and culture protesting against the import of foreign programming,which is perceived to be equal to the import of a foreign culture andvalues. However, having said that, it does not automatically imply that thetelevision media can deny all responsibility towards social values or thenational social agenda. For,without question, only social forces such as education, religion,employment and community practices or family upbringing can inculcate suchvalues. While, it does appear that there is a great deal of scope fortelevision to stop hiding behind the fact that it mirrors society, it isimportant to point out here that a line also needs to be drawn somewhere onculturally sensitive programming. Examples thatcome to mind are the repetitive characterization of Arabs as wealthy butarguably uncultured sheikhs; the sheltered, suppressed life of Chinese orAsian Indian women; the Jew as a banker; the Italian or Russian gangster;or the never-take-anything seriously, pleasure loving African-American. The key point I am making here is only that any marked skew intelevision programming should be addressed so that the scale is more evenlybalanced. If television follows social values, it is then highlydebatable whether conscious developing of sensitive, cross-cultural ormulti-cultural television content will succeed in either eliminatingcultural and social differences or in generating mass, popular appeal. Therefore, it is as important that culturally andlinguistically different segments of the population also learn to adapt tothe functioning of a democracy and respect the principle of freedom ofexpression. Further, such an enlightened and educational approach need notnecessarily be confined to educational or infotainment programming, butform a conscious part of pure entertainment as well. Viewed from thisperspective, there could be a case for television to act as a catalyst inbringing together diverse cultures by more positively highlighting thedifferences. The effect gets even more magnified when the portrayal ofstereotypes is accompanied by humorous play on the language or linguisticability of minority groups.
Some topics in this essay:
Italian Russian, , America Similarly, Asian Indian, culturally linguistically, mainstream american culture, american culture, social activists, mirrors society, culturally sensitive, social differences, social values, conscious developing, societal values, television content,
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