Media: a reflection of society
If we look back at cinema history (and even TV history), we can see that throughout its entire evolution, it has always managed to reflect the current situation that the world was living in.
In WWII, media played a massive part in Hitler’s propaganda given the big films the Nazis produced in order to influence people and show the best side of the movement. Hitler was shown as this superior human being, one that everyone loved and whose motives and words were exalted to their maximum expression. On the other side we also got Charles Chaplin, whose 1940 movie The Great Dictator was a clear audiovisual battle against the Nazi movement.
Going forward, we saw many movies that dealt with the real repercussions of WWII, in an attempt to show the world the reality of it through fiction, but also hoping that such horrible episode in history never repeats.
Among many of the historical events that have impacted our planet, there’s the 9.11 terrorist attack, which also got many movies and a news media coverage around the world that, along with the USA invasion to Iraq, felt like seeing the start of a new big war in real time from our homes. But we also got, and still do, stories that represent the many struggles of black people and minorities; these are stories that have helped shape the view of our society towards a more accepting one.
Yet, with the existence of the internet and most importantly of social media, things have changed. Although traditional communication channels such as cinema, TV and radio still play a big role; it is through social media that most of the information gets highlighted or buried. While years ago a movie was considered successful thanks to how many tickets it sold and then how many physical copies or merchandise it was able to sell, now success is also measured by how much buzz it creates in social media and even more by not how big but strong its social following is.
This proliferation of social media has opened the door for many people to be heard without basically any sort of restriction, which has lead to misinformation and big companies to own people’s data in shady and doubtful ways. This is part of a big problem caused by the overwhelming amount of information that we are exposed to every single day, a problem that seems less and less likely to be fixed anytime soon. But if anything, it reflects the dependence on social media that our society has developed in the latest years, and how it has basically shaped the way our world works right now, with many people behind a screen being able to say what they wouldn’t dare to say in front of a big crowd.
Words have lost its value and yet have acquired a more frightening one. Social movements take place online, a wise move to involve more people, but one that makes many important causes get lost under those that create the biggest worship no matter how empty they are.
Movies and TV shows have embraced this, and they are even trying to find a way to educate our society about these tools and our current situation. But it also seems like a vicious circle. Which is probably why more and more movies set their stories back in the years in which technology wasn’t as developed, because those times served a less complicated way of interacting with people, and didn’t bring all the risks that social media brings nowadays.
Ultimately, Media in general has had a huge amount of power in history, and that is not changing. Whether we try to control it or not, it will always be a reflection of our times and probably more of an ally than an enemy; since the bad ones are still real people in power.