Media, Sex, Violence, and Drugs in the Global Village
Walsh-Childers, Kim, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly
Media, Sex, Violence, and Drugs in the Global Village. Yahya R. Kamalipour and Kuldip R. Rampal, eds. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2001. 312 pp. $80 hbk. $29.95 pbk.
U.S. university communications programs are increasingly international, particularly at the graduate level, with students from Europe, Asia, the Middle East, South America, and Africa joining domestic students. For that reason, it is frequently frustrating to discuss media content and effects relating to sex, violence, and drugs because so much of the readily available information is confined to the U.S. experience. Students quite naturally want to know how similar or different are other countries' experiences with these issues, but that information often is difficult to locate. Thus, Yahya Kamalipour and Kuldip Rampal's book potentially fills a significant gap. Unfortunately, the book itself is somewhat inconsistent, failing to clearly show how the media portray sex, violence, and drugs outside the United States or how those portrayals affect non-U.S. audiences.
The book attempts to answer two key questions: "Is there any research-based evidence that the portrayal of sex, violence, and drug use in popular programming and movies has harmful effects on children or any other age group?" and second, "Are there any positive effects of media globalization?" The book offers fifteen chapters in which media scholars from the United States, Canada, Korea, India, Egypt, South Africa, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, and Turkey discuss various aspects of these questions in the context of a variety of cultures from around the world. (One notable absence is any discussion of the media content in Latin America or South America.) One of the most interesting characteristics of the book is that several of the authors address, either directly or indirectly, whether the political and cultural climate of a country tends to mitigate or exacerbate the influence of imported Western media content.
There are several useful and thought-- provoking chapters in the book, particularly in the first half. For instance, in the first chapter, Purdue University Calumet's Thomas Roach argues that media critics often make the erroneous assumption "that media effects override the process by which humans exchange, accept, and reject ideas." Roach's chapter emphasizes the role of human agency in the "media effects" process, arguing that it is not, after all, the media that have effects but those humans who are in control of the media technology.
The need for citizens of the global society to be "discerning critics" is further emphasized in Nancy Snow's chapter, titled "Social Implications of Media Globalization." Snow, associate director of UCLA's Center for Communications and Community, argues that the global media age undermines democracy "because the selling of goods and not the telling of stories now drives our means of communication. It is clear that the global media system serves mostly advertisers and shareholders. …