Week Two Assignment: Jasmine Dierenfield

Mass media definitely has gotten criticism, especially in the last few years, yet this criticism is undeserved. There are countless media that project thought provoking and life changing world/self views. There are examples across all types of media that support that statement. Let’s look at the documentary Happy directed by Roko Belic.

This documentary  explores happiness as defined by people across the globe. Think about it: what makes you happy? Isn’t happiness the ultimate goal of almost every individual? We fall in love with somebody because they make us happy. We have the friends we do because they make us happy. Happiness is huge.

Did you know Japan is the least happy country? People are so work-oriented that they will die from exhaustion. Literally, they die from it. The happiest place on Earth (I can’t remember which country it was) was community-oriented. Obviously different values can affect the level of happiness. How do you measure happiness, however? What even makes it wanted? This documentary plunges into how money, fame, social status, relationships, health, and personal fulfillment play into happiness.

As one who frequently struggles with happiness, this documentary was enough to make me take a look at life and to decide how I can make myself happy. Let’s take a step back. The accusers state that mass media is a “vast wasteland.’ However, this documentary puts a major chip in that theory. Any type of mass media that can reach out into people’s lives and make them better definitely serves a valuable purpose.

This proves that film isn’t a vast wasteland, but what about the other types of mass media? Happy can also provide insight into other mass media. Take for example, the internet. The internet is a frontier, impossible to completely conquer and claim. It contains silly, relatively unimportant content along with informational and important items. Happy has moved from the film industry and now has a second home on the world wide web. You can visit it HERE. The internet can be reached by hundreds of thousands of people, and when spreading messages and ideas that can potentially better the lives of humans it can be the perfect medium because it’s easily accessible any time of any day by anyone.

There are countless other books, magazines, radio programs, TV shows, movies, and websites that promote well-being — not only well-being, but history and history in the making. Any bit of media from the past offers an insight to the culture of the time. People don’t realize how much culture affects every aspect of their lives, and often mass media can be a window in which to see this. No matter what one’s personal opinion might be towards mass media, it’s going to be important in the future when our great-great grandchildren are trying to understand the times we are currently living in. Fashion, values, food, health, morals, and a lot more are reflected in the window created by mass media.

Mass media from today will be primary sources in the future. Think about it. In history, you read about the first civil rights movement and study how others acted and reacted and felt. Now, you read a primary source from an activist, describing his or her experiences. Which one will be more valuable to you?

Some might argue that if mass media from now will serve to educate future generations on the current time that we should be even more concerned that the mass media are a giant wasteland. However, this is misled. People have to remember who is producing this mass media: We are. Our friends, family, fellow students, co-workers, bosses, and friends of a friend are producing it. This is our culture, and this is our culture’s mass media. In the Introduction to Mass Media, it’s said that “Books, along with other mass media, reflect the culture that produces and consumes them’ (p 53). For the future to understand us, we need to embrace mass media so that it may fully reflect us and those around us. The fact that mass media will have such an impact in the future makes it anything but a vast wasteland. Yes, it is vast, but it’s not a waste. In every form of media there is value and the opportunity to understand our culture and for the future to understand our generations.

It can start with one person, such as Belik, making a documentary, website, etc. to make the world a better place. Mass media can force us to look at our culture and decide if that’s what we want to be remembered for. Take a dive into mass media and you will find a plethora of positive, life changing media. You will also find the opposite. However, it’s important! All of it is. It shows how diverse the world has become and it’s amazing that we are able to capture it in media form to be preserved for years to come.

Jasmine Dierenfield