“In dealing with the confluence of complex social configurations, it is idle to claim primacy for any one set of forces and the field that addresses it. Each field offering seminal contributions to the understanding of any significant aspect of the constellation needs to develop its own critical discipline in order to play its appropriate role.”– George Gerbner, The Importance Of Being Critical-In One’s Own Fashion
Standing outside during a wedding reception inside a friend’s home, I noticed children playing where adults were smoking blunts. Now, everybody has different ethical approaches to what defines responsibility in the case of children and marijuana smoke, but seeing that I did not know who the children’s parents were, thus their disposition, I decided to err on the side of prevention. After I gathered the children and led them away to another area of the house, I was sequestered by another friend. OF course, their response to my act was,”we ghetto, niggaz smoke around kids in the hood!” This was met by a round of laughter, but my initial response remained integrated with my behavior. Everybody attending the ceremony was not from the “ghetto” or “hood”, and everybody is different with their children.
I have since learned that this particular debate tends to diverge at a few points. People without children that do not smoke weed to be the most sacrosanct;people with children that do not smoke weed a slice below them;people without children that do smoke weed fall in the most indulgent category; and people with children and do smoke weed typically exists as the most flexible, not the most indulgent, but also no where near as self-righteous about it.
I tend to see people’s reactions and responses to children and adult themes in media similarly. Much like the underlying current of western capitalist thinking–that is, if you are not a owner, you are ridiculed slightly less than if you are at least a producer for an owner, but never as a non-owning non-producer and never as little as an owner. The basic analogy tends to be towards the line of owners to ridicule as smokers with children to sacrosanctness of weed smoking in front of children as parents that enjoy adult themes of a particular show to strictness regarding media consumption. Now, never to sell media studies(which is my expertise), sociology, or even psychology as pure sciences, I do however beg a certain fairness and protection from all the “well, not me and I am a _______(which ever category)” that I am sure erupted from certain parts of the Asylum readership. My point here is not to present a tally of likert scales comparing indulgences and irresponsibility, but to apply an introductory understanding of what I have coined as “media trust”.
Once again, without having to prove two millenniums worth of Western philosophy, I think it is well within my average readers ability to comprehend the concept that social existence determines social consciousness. As above, so below, the micro to that macro is a mirrored reflection that individual existence would also determine individual consciousness. In the same way that social spheres of collective influence– say, our religious notions, political ideologies, and academic leanings– are used to justify the relationship of owner to producer, so are our personal emotional appeals to media story used to justify who and what we give our media trust to.
So, once again, what is media trust? Well, we sort of understand what we are referring to when we discuss media. Mainly, mass communication at the intersection of corporate message control and entertainment. Well, what is trust? Trust is the dynamic of imagination incrementally allotted based on the fruition and fulfillment of expected, entertained, or sold outcomes. It is our faith that someone or something will do what they or it has a history of doing, what we imagined or hoped they or it would do, or what they or it has communicated that it would do. How has white media been a benefactor for US Blacks? How has control of the media representations of US Black Women been of a benefit to Whites? How does Kelsey Grammar’s(Girlfriends, The Game) influence of the construction of US Black Women characters impact the identity of US Black Women?
We will address that, but first we need to further the understanding of media trust, as well as develop an introductory understanding of what I call ‘critical empathy’. And we will do that in the next post.