A look at the themes present in media targeted at youth

This post is going to be half in English and half in Spanish and for that I apologize.  I just got done reading an article by Leticia Reina, who did research on how the media targets youth.  She argued that the influence was mostly negative and she saw a distorted display of real life on most shows made for youth viewership in Latin America.  For me, the part of the article that most caught my attention was the list she provided of themes that are prevalent in these shows.  I was able to think about my personal experience with latin telenovelas as well as with the programs I viewed on American television.  I have seen all of these themes somewhere or other and it is a shame that we are just fed over and over that this is how life should be.

Algunos mensajes y valores que se representan en los programas que se dirigen a la juventud (de acuerdo con el articulo de Reina):

.Omnipresente culto al cuerpo y a la belleza. Totalitarismo estético
. Culto a la eterna juventud
. Infantilismo en los adultos, y niños adultizados
. Mercantilización del sexo y violencia sexual
. Sexismo. Degradación y frivolidad en la imagen que presenta de la mujer
como objeto erótico-escaparate.
. Apología de la violencia como conducta plausible y efectiva. La violencia
como un hecho cotidiano.
. Trivialización de la muerte.
. Potenciación del american way of life, o estilo de vida americano.
. Consumo. Tener es poder.
. Competitividad, en todo y por todo.
. Individualismo, insolidaridad.
. Falta de compromiso y de respeto intergeneracional.
. Idealización del estatus.
. Éxito.
. Fama.
. Cultura del pelotazo o de “cómo conseguirlo todo sin esfuerzo”.
. Imitación, repetición, carencia de ideas propias, de originalidad. Pérdida de
la personalidad. Alineación, “borreguismo”.
. Supremacía y poder de la marca. Tiranía de la moda.
. El dinero como valor en sí mismo.
. El maniqueísmo bondad-maldad, en el que no caben los “grises”.
. Ridiculización del saber y la cultura, considerados como algo marginal de
“calculines” y aburridos. Desprecio al intelecto.
. Empobrecimiento del vocabulario y la expresión oral, así como de la cultura


Reina, Leticia G. “Juventud Y Medios De Comunicación. La Televisión Y Los Jóvenes: Aproximación Estructural a La Programación Y Los Mensajes.” ÁMBITOS 11.12

I’m almost embarrassed to admit this, but for the sake of this post, I will do it.  When I was younger, in high school, I joined in on the “Rebelde” hype.  (What can I say?  It was really interesting.)  If you don’t know what that is, I’ll explain.  Rebelde is a very popular telenovela targeted at youth about a bunch of rich kids living at a boarding school, going through their daily lives.  One girl is dating one of her teachers, another is rebellious because her mom is famous and doesn’t give her enough attention, while one boy seeks revenge on the man who he blames for his dad’s death, and another is struggling to live up to his dad’s expectations.  Normal kid stuff, right?  All these kids had very dramatic problems in their lives, but still manage to live a life of glamour, a life that many young viewers coveted.  Anyway, many of the themes listed were present in this novela, just this one alone.

Everyone in that show was very attractive and fit and they didn’t display an accurate body type distribution that is reality.  In their “glamorous” world, everyone was attractive according to tv standards.  There were definitely those adults who behaved so immaturely that you wonder how they forgot to grow up.  The promotion of the perceived “American way of life” was definitely present, as most of these kids had all they could ever want and more, something that isn’t very possible for many American youth, let alone for those from Mexico.  Consumerism was promoted throughout as well as competitiveness, between adults and between youth.  In her list, Reina mentions individuality/unsolidarity as a negative, which I found confusing at first, but I think she meant it in a different way.  In Rebelde, some of the youth wanted so bad to be individuals and stand out of the crowd that they did something drastic, something rebellious.  Even through the title of the show, we see that they are promoting rebelliousness. Anyway, there is so much more I could talk about as there were many more examples of these themes prevalent throughout the life of the show.  It just amazes me what youth (myself included) are willing to watch, and it amazes me even more what the media is willing to do to get an audience.


I feel like the youth would recognize the presence of these themes in the shows that they watch.  Does it make them angry?  Do they watch because it is entertaining, think that it won’t influence them because they are aware of it?  I would like to find out how the youth feel about the stereotypes and lifestyles being perpetuated in the shows that play on tv in Mexico.

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