From the moment tv shows began getting into politics, people started dividing up over their message. A surprisingly divisive show was All in the Family. Running throughout the 1970s, it featured a bigoted American father who constantly butted heads with his grown daughter and her liberal husband. The show sometimes got flack from liberal writers, who claimed that it reinforced bigotry in everyday life. The show creators shot back that the kids were always in the right, and the dad was always in the wrong. Clearly, the show discouraged bigotry by making it the butt of every joke.
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Then came a survey that showed they were both right. Liberals watched the show because they believed it reinforced their views. Plenty of bigots did the same. Whenever each group saw the other side score a point on the show, they minimized it or forgot it, while they were happy to remember any point – made by any character – that backed up their own beliefs. Two groups of people saw two different shows. –Esther Ingliss-Arkell


Fiction Writing Prompt: Use internal monologue to show your character uses what he or she sees in the media to reinforce existing beliefs.

Journaling Prompt: Write about a disagreement that you’ve had with a friend or family member over something in the media.

Art Prompt: Politics and TV

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about how media can reinforce their existing beliefs and how they can break past that to allow it to challenge them.

Photo Credit: Alan Light on Flickr

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