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MTV is an American television network that is very popular among the teenagers because of the content of most of its programs. They promote popular culture in most of their contents. The decision by the executives of this company to go global was motivated by the need to expand its market share beyond the United States. It was a brilliant move as firms try to go beyond their borders to increase their revenues.
However, there is a concern that its contents may have negative implications on teenagers in the developing countries because of the fundamental differences between the environment presented in the films and what they have in real life situation in these developing nations. The management of MTV may need to customize the contents of its programs in different markets.
The emerging technologies in the field of communication have transformed the world into a small global village. Widespread access to internet and ease with which information can be shared are some of the factors that have made it possible for this transformation to take place.
The world is becoming increasingly integrated. Inasmuch as this comes with numerous benefits in terms of sharing knowledge, Keller says that the influence brought about by the technology-based integration has been skewed against the developing nations (43). This is specifically so because of the film industry. Film industry has a massive impact on the culture that youths and young adults embrace. They learn how to face a number of social issues through the films they watch.
The rich countries such as the United States have dominated the film industry because they have the resources and relevant technology needed in making the movies. On the other hand, developing countries lack the needed resources. The outcome has been a situation where it is the culture of the West that is spread around the world. Every time these films focus on Africa, then the storyline is often about genocide, terrible famine, child-soldiers, prevalence of HIV/AIDs, and other undesirable events that are not admirable in any way.
The West continues to admire the western culture while the developing nations get to hate their own way of life. This is a tragedy that is affecting many developing nations as the youth try to emulate their counterparts in the wealthy nations in terms of dress-code, social life, and relationships among others. In this paper, the researcher will focus on the influence of western films on the lives of youths in the developing nations.
Scholars have conducted extensive research on the impact of western films on teenagers and young adults around the world. A study by Wild, Han, and Wild showed that the culture of most of the developing nations is getting eroded at unprecedented rates (87). In the past, children and adolescents were taught about the way of life and cultural practices by their parents and grandparents. The adolescents were particularly taught about the values and morals and how to earn a living in a decent way.
However, this traditional way of life is slowly ebbing away in most of the developing nations. Coyle says that parents have moved to the urban centers in search of better opportunities (88). These parents spend most of their time at work and do not have time to educate their children on their traditional ways of life. As such, most of these children turn to films as the most convenient sources of information that they need about life.
According to Beebe and Middleton, in the modern society, teenagers and young adults in the developing economies have completely disregarded the teachings and ways of life of their forefathers (56). Indeed some of the practices were retrogressive such as female genital mutilation that was rampant in some parts of Africa. However, these communities in Africa and parts of Asia had good cultural values that upheld hard work, discipline, communal work, among other practices seen to focus on helping the weak and fighting laziness and immoral practices. These cultural practices have been replaced by the western culture. According to Coyle, many youths believe that the way of life as upheld by their cultural practices is archaic and should be replaced with the western culture that appears to be cool (88).
Keller says that films and movies have completely eroded moral beliefs and practices that were highly valued in most of the societies in the developing economies (43). In these movies, life is presented as stress free. Coyle laments that film producers in the United States have learnt how to present life in their films the way their audience want it to be (88). The youths see how unethical or even criminal acts are rewarding as shown in the films.
One goes and robs a shop and he gets away with it. In fact, such criminals are presented as individuals who have all that they want. This is not the case even in the West. As Arens says, the United States is one of the countries with the best work ethics in the world (23). Some of the richest individuals in this country rarely get time to sleep as they stay awake, struggling to increase their wealth. Coyle says that in the United States- unlike in other countries around the world- hard work pays (88).
People who spend a lot of time trying to solve problems get rewarded with wealth. On the other hand, those who try to find short-cuts in life through stealing, robbing, or breaking into people’s homes get killed or spend most of their lives in prison.
This is the reality in the United States. Unfortunately, the youths in the developing countries lack the opportunity to see this reality. They see America through the lenses of the camera. They know that America is great and as such, they want to emulate everything about it. The only way they have to know about this country they admire so much is through films. It is unfortunate that almost all the films presented to them give the true image of what is taking place in the United States (Coyle 88). They are meant to entertain by making the impossible things in real life possible.
A study by Hill and Jones, found that most of the criminal activities rampant in most of the slums in the developing economies around the world can be blamed on the films that children and young adults watch (51). At a very tender age, they are introduced to the world of violence. The action movies teach them that dialogue and consensus has no place in the world of heroes. They get to learn that the only way of making people respect you is to use violence (Gillespie and Hennessey 77).
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The movie stars in such films know how to fight and even kill when necessary. Robbing, raping, and killings are presented as very normal things, and not serious crimes. It is common to see a 6-year old kid trying to practice the styles learnt in a movie soon after watching it. When they are subjected to such violent actions for a very long time, then they develop into violent adults who disregard dialogue and other peaceful conflict resolution methods.
The mode of dressing is another area where it has been demonstrated that the American movies have significant impacts on the lives of youths and teenagers in the developing countries. According to McCabe and Akass, the casual dress that is often popular in most of the American films is now common in most of the urban centers in the developing nations (75). As Keller says, the biggest problem that these films have on the developing nations is that it makes their youth emulate an expensive lifestyle that they cannot afford (43). This may force them into undesirable vices such as robbery or theft so that they can get the cash to finance the fancy lifestyle that they admire in these films.
MTV is one of the leading television networks in the United States. The decision to go global was made in 1988 when the firm decided to expand its viewership and market coverage beyond the United States. With the emergence of the modern technologies, MTV has made its products available to many countries around the world. This network is very popular among the teenagers and young adults. The program that it airs targets them as the primary audience.
As it moves to the developing economies around the world, this firm is having serious impacts on the lives of many teenagers in the developing nations. Almost all the programs broadcasted through this network are based on life in the West. Most of them are shot in the United States. Some of them are shot in the developed European countries. The main reason of doing so is that the primary target audience for these filmmakers is the Western market. They target the American and European youths, and therefore, are often keen to ensure that they can identify with what is presented in these films. The infrastructure in these developing nations also makes it easy for them to produce these films in the developed countries.
Teenagers in the developing economies now have access to the programs that are broadcasted by MTV. The problem is that the content is custom-made for the teenagers in Europe and the United States. The culture, infrastructure, and all the systems presented in these films are all based on practices of the West. The teenagers in the developing countries, once they have watched these films, try to visualize a life as presented in these shows. It creates frustration among these teenagers, especially when they realize that they lack the financial weight to engage in the activities that they see in these films. They also realize that their country lacks the infrastructure that can make them have a similar experience as what they watch in the western movies.
When asked about their global expansion strategy and the consequence it has on the teenagers in the developing countries, one of the top executives treated the issue casually, saying that it is just fun. The executive said that they simply present television shows to the global community and are not in any way trying to influence the teenagers towards a given culture. This casual way of addressing this issue was not only irresponsible but also immoral.
Opinions around the world are shaped by media irrespective of whether the target audience is an adult or a minor. Propaganda is often sold through television channels. Politicians use these platforms to convince the electorates by promising them what they cannot offer. These politicians end up having their way through media. It is therefore insincere for the executive to claim that they only offer TV programs.
The executive must understand that they offer more than that. They not only entertain as they try to put it, but also educate, inform, and influence ideas of the audience. Once these children are entertained, they are left with the knowledge learnt in these films. The knowledge may be about conflict resolution, establishing and maintaining relationships, addressing social challenges in life, and playing a role in the economic development of the country. In most of the cases, teenagers will try to emulate what they see their movie stars doing. As such, the content of the programs presented in these films matters a lot. If the starts are portrayed as rational people who solve their social problems in a social manner, then the audience will try to emulate their character.
In this case study, it is important for the executives of MTV to understand that going global is a good business idea. Firms can only expand their market share significantly through internationalization. However, it is necessary to ensure that the contents presented in these films are custom-made. Each target audience should be presented with contents which are relevant to their local environmental factors. It should not bring a sudden culture shock in the society because it may create disharmony between the teenagers and the elder members of the society.
The world is quickly changing into a global village where people can easily interact and information be shared because of the advanced means of communication. Television networks have played a major role in this transition. It is now possible for a live event taking place in New York City to be followed by people in Tokyo, Riyadh, Nairobi, London, and Paris, Moscow or any other part of the world. Media, especially the television shows have had major impacts on the way of life in the modern society. Children and teenagers currently learn about the social life from the movies that they watch instead of what they are taught by the parents.
The film industry is currently not just a source of entertainment but also acts as a platform for education. That is why the decision by MTV to go global is raising concerns, especially in the developing economies. The content that they present in these movies is suitable for audience in the Europe, United States, and other developed economies. However, this is the same content that is presented to the audience in the developing economies. Such films may be entertaining to the audience. However, they are also frustrating because the audience cannot practice what they watch because of the limitations in their local environment.
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