The Contemporary Reader

I remember when I was thirteen I used to think that high school life would be the best time in my life - The Contemporary Reader introduction. Well, that was an assumption that I came up with after watching all the movies and reading those teen novels. However, the fact turned out to be quite a bummer to me. All of my expectations fell right on my face after I spent about a week in high school. Nothing was really new there, I’ve seen those people before: the mean girls, the geeks, the quarterbacks. It was fun, but not as fun as I thought it would be. It was not like in the movies or novels.

It was rather ordinary and kind of boring I would say. Right at that moment, I realized that high school life was way over rated, and those stories that I’ve seen or read are some kind of fiction stories that some middle aged folks wrote. Even if it was a true story, that story must be extraordinarily beautiful and the chance for it to happen in real life is like one out of a thousand. The more I think about it, the more I realize how beautiful, and at the same time, how unreachable life is on TV. Everything seems fun to watch.

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It’s fun to watch all those things that we don’t get to see in our real life. One thing that we must keep in our mind is the fact that not all things we see in the media are true. We saw Lindsay Lohan as a wealthy student with a great fashion sense in the movie titled Get A Clue, but what is truly happening in her life is a total contrast; alcohol and drug addiction. Superstars, movies, or what we call media in general is over rated; they are neither bad nor good, they are us, and what we see are the reflection of what is actually happening in the current society.

Watching those people in TV made us want to imitate them, to look like them, to be like them; rich and famous. The fact speaks for itself, “American society in the twenty-first century, received opinion has it, values only two things: money and celebrity” (Epstein 247). Wanting itself doesn’t get us anywhere near fame. In fact, we are hurting our own selves by having those obsessions. “It can be discouraging to feel like you cannot live up to the flawless images you see”(Wolpert 281). We crave for more celebrities’ stories, more dramas, more conflicts, all because we want to be like them.

In Return of the Brainless Hussies, the author Rebecca Traister explains “But the degradation of the subject is the backbeat to the melody being broadcast to kids” This is what you are supposed to look like; this is what you do look like; these are our expectations of you, if you fulfill them, you too can be on television”(261). This way of thinking has been given and developed to the society in all ages, especially the new generations, since they grow with it. As we all know the media doesn’t always bring good impacts.

But we might not know yet, how fast and powerful is the media’s impacts in teenagers’ life. Media is identical with entertainment. When we want entertainment we think media. Teenagers crave for more and more entertainment everyday. They watch TV, go to cinemas, tweet, update their status on Facebook, and post videos on YouTube. The advanced technology nowadays allows us to access the media easy and fast. In the Frenzy of Renown, written in 1986, Leo Braudy documented the long and intimate relationship between mass media and fame.

The more plentiful, accessible and immediate the ways of gathering and distributing information have become, he wrote, the more ways there are to be known: ‘In the past that medium was usually literature, theater, or public monuments. (Chaudry 265) The media actually acts as the deliverer that connects people all over the world. They open up the doors to all places and present us all with news, stories, and even lies that we actually buy. They also opened the ways for us, the ordinary people, to get the chance to achieve our desire. Everyone, in the back of his mind, wants to be a star” says Chad Hurley, the YouTube co-founder. Through media, we present our selves the way we want it to be. We edit our facebook or myspace profiles to create this ‘online identity’ to promote our selves. We use the best pictures as our profile pictures, and upload recent pictures taken to tell everybody in our friends list what we are currently doing. “Students are creating idealized versions of themselves on social networking website” (wolpert 279). I admit that I’m one of those people who checked their facebook everyday.

It became my habit: when I open my internet server, I open my facebook profile. But I’m not one of those people who add hundreds of strangers to their friends list. I totally agree with the statement “Having 1,000 friends seems to be like collecting accessories” (Wolpert 281). I’m an international student, and I just moved to USA one year ago. Thus most of my friends are in Indonesia, and facebook becomes the easiest and fastest access that I have to keep in contact with them. However there are also people who use online media as an access to promote themselves in a narcissistic way.

In Crafting Your Image for Your 1,000 Friends on Facebook, the author Stuart Wolpert explains “People are relating to others trying to promote themselves and seeing how you compare with them. We found a lot of social comparisons, and people are comparing themselves against these idealized self-presentations” (281). Easy access to the media of course also increases the quantity of ‘famous people’ but lower the quality itself. In Mirror, Mirror, on the Web, Lakshmi Chaudry explains “And the easier it is to become known, the less we have to do to earn that honor”(265).

It means that the entertainment served by the media is less selective than usual. Teenagers can get access to all of the entertainment even some that are inappropriate for them and eventually it will give bad examples for them. The media somehow can set the way teenagers think nowadays because of the unlimited access that the teenagers have over it. By realizing what is really happening to teenagers now, the parents and adults need to take actions and give some restrictions to the teenagers to limit their access to the media. “ What we see in real life technically should give a bigger impact than what we watch from TV.

We need to open our own eyes to see the real world and experience the real life. Some people might think that real lives are cruel, ordinary, boring, hard and not fun. But we should also know that the media is built and developed by us. If we want to see the truth, we should go and watch the news. If we want to see happy endings, go see a movie or read a fiction novel. Remember that the media is made to be exposed. And logically thinking, things that are being exposed are prepared to sell. But it is our own responsibility to know which one to buy, since the over rated things are not always the best product to buy.

Works Cited

Chaudry, Lakshmi, “Mirror, Mirror, on the Web. ” The Contemporary Reader. Ed. Gray Goshgarian. 10th ed. New York: Pearson, 2010. Print. Epstein, Joseph, “The Culture of Celebrity. ” The Contemporary Reader. Ed. Gray Goshgarian. 10th ed. New York: Pearson, 2010. Print. Traister, Rebecca, “Return of the Brainless Hussies. ” The Contemporary Reader. Ed. Gray Goshgarian. 10th ed. New York: Pearson, 2010. Print. Wolpert, Stuart, “Crafting Your Image for Your 1,000 Friends on Facebook. ” The Contemporary Reader. Ed. Gray Goshgarian. 10th ed. New York: Pearson, 2010. Print.

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