Utah Valley University

Jorge Alberto Ortega

COMM 1500

Prof. Bridget Sheffer

February 25, 2017

President's Day Holiday Homework Assignment

What does it mean to be critically aware of media messages?

Being critically aware of media messages means to be able to recognize what is true and what is

false in those messages. The problem, however, is we do not even realize media platforms are

sending us subconscious messages, not only to persuade us to buy certain products or services

but also it is shaping the way we think, and that can be dangerous.

For advertisers and publicists alike, we don’t necessarily have to be their target market, as they

believe if the message was created powerful enough, then it would have the subconscious

capability of persuading us to buy whatever they are selling. These days, it is crazy how we get

bombarded with lots of ads, distorting our likes, our thoughts, and even our behaviors.

In an analysis of the psychological impact of ads messages, balance theorists explain why

persuasive messages in advertisements were sometimes effective whereas others weren’t, based

on the sales results. “If the results of these ads were not powerful enough, the message would

cause imbalance in the message, and as a result, no sale.” (Media Ethics, p. 55). However, not

only ads messages have the power of shaping our views but also films, movies and music.

Regarding movies, to better illustrate my point, an excerpt extracted from the Media Culture

textbook, on chapter 7, contends, “Films have also helped moviegoers sort through experiences

that either affirmed or deviated from their own values. Some movies—for instance, Last Tango

in Paris (1972), Scarface (1983), Brokeback Mountain (2005), Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004), and The

Dictator (2012)—have allowed audiences to survey “the boundary between the permitted and the

forbidden” and to experience, in a controlled way, “the possibility of stepping across this

boundary.” Such films—criticized by some for appearing to glorify crime and violence, verge on

pornography, trample on sacred beliefs, or promote unpatriotic viewpoints— have even, on

occasion, been banned from public viewing.” Despite that these films are considered “classics”

for being all blockbusters, if we don’t objectively analyze what messages these movies deliver,

then it would persuade us to the point of doing what the movie taught us, despite we know it is

all fiction. Even so, it can create a negative impact in our society, especially on children and

teens. Consequently, develop critical awareness is extremely important.

What questions could we ask ourselves to help us 'stay' in a critically aware mindset?

According to an article called Consumer Responsibilities, by The Manila Times, suggests their

readers (consumers) ask themselves these questions in order to be more critically aware of what

they buy, “The consumer’s responsibility is to be more alert and questioning about the use, price

and quality of products and services. How much is this product? What can it do? Is it safe to use?

What are its hazards to my health?” Although these are very basic questions, answering them are

very important in providing guidance and ensuring consumers are aware of what they are buying

and if it is worth buying certain products or services. Nevertheless, I would like to add these

other questions in order to help consumers understand what they are buying and assist them in

analyzing their purchases based on the impact they can cause to them or the society: How is this

product or service going to help me solve my problems? What’s the rhetoric behind the

message? What is the content and context? What are the emotions, knowledge and credibility of

the ad, and the company who launches it? (Ethos, pathos, and logos), who is getting involved in

this commercial?

What does the quote by Jean Kilbourne teach you about being critically aware?

The quote teaches me I shouldn’t easily fall for what ads messages convey. I must be aware of

the impact ads messages could cause. For example, I must analyze every color, word, phrase,

image, and what the ad’s purpose is. Since technology is evolving at a fast pace, it is much easier

to get bombarded with advertisements through our computers and smartphones. The most

dangerous part, however, is that ads are cultivating ideas that can shape the way we think or

behave through powerful messages with the sole purpose of persuading their customers to buy

their products. Then, developing critical awareness should be compulsory in our communities.

Based on the quote of Jean Klbourne, ads sell more that simple products; they shape the way we

view people. Ads message have the power of instilling in us a wrong idea of who we should be,

instead of teaching us to accept ourselves and respect others. Regarding women that appear on

beauty or fashion ads with short, small clothing, the consequences are that these stereotypes of a

beautiful woman have caused psychological problems among women in our society, ranging

from depression, stress, or even suicide.

Campbell, R., Fabos, B., & Martin, C. (2014) Media and culture: Mass communication in a

digital era. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s

Patterson, P., & Wilkins L. (2014) Media ethics: Issues and cases. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill

Companies, Inc.

The Manila Times, (2013, August 18). Consumer responsabilities. The Manila Times. Retrieved