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Early Television as Social Instruction

In the Post-WWII period, television acquired the image of the global village, which implied great marketing potential. For example, Big Ben and Eiffel Tower were used for advertising Arvin’s consoles. The view of various places was the key idea that promised an illusion for people to allow them to leave their homes without actually doing it. The home with the mise-en-scene of windows and doors was considered to be a social place (Spigel & Mann, 1992). In many advertising campaigns and TV programs, the interiors included luxury items, which stimulated consumerism. The Americans who were depressed after the war were encouraged to spend money on entertainment and goods. Spigel and Mann (1992) state that people moved indoors since television offered better entertainment. Accordingly, they visited fewer concerts, baseball, and theaters, while increasing purchases and TV ratings. The entire attention was paid to marketing and purchase stimulation through the predefined symbols, images, and narratives.

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As for racial, ethnic, gender, and class identities, early television was mainly focused on showing the White population, while racial and gender minorities were completely disregarded. Likewise, the problems faced by low-income groups and those having challenges with employment were not discussed. Discrimination, racism, and violence towards women were the topics that never appeared on screens as if they did not exist. Therefore, early television instructed Americans in a way that gave little importance to social problems. Moreover, minorities started identifying themselves in accordance with the images sent by television. For example, African-Americans were represented as people who provoke violence against them, which made their oppressors the victims. Thus, the historically-disadvantaged position of African-Americans was supplemented by double stigma since the early television acted as not only social but also behavioral guidance.

Reference

Spigel, L., & Mann, D. (1992). Private screenings: Television and the female consumer. University of Minnesota Press.

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