INFLUENCE OF HOLLYWOOD FILMS ON THE MORAL VALUES OF YOUTHS
By Odinma Chima
CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION
BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The mass media exert great persuasive effects on the thoughts and behaviors, by encouraging people into new lifestyle patterns, fashion, etc. Among all media, films play a major role in affecting the thinking pattern of the society (Evra, 1990). Films also referred to as motion pictures, involves projecting a series of images into the screen to create an illusion of motion. It is one of the most popular forms of entertainment, enabling people to immerse in an imaginary world for a short period (Olaleye, 2007). In recent times, subtitles that translate different languages have increased appeal of films, especially those from foreign cultures. Subtitles give the audience the opportunity to watch films that were not produced in their primary language. This innovation therefore created room for rapid spread of films from their country of origin to other countries, in which Nigeria is not an exception. Today in Nigeria, films made in Hollywood USA, France, India, China, etc. are always in high demand. Our present Nigeria society now has a Europeanized look. Our youths now strive to talk, walk, behave, eat, and dress exactly like characters in foreign films, to the detriment and abandonment of our indigenous cultures. The influence of foreign films has not been in question, however, the type of influence, that is whether it is negative or positive has been the question in the front burner of recent studies in that area. This is exactly what brought about this research work, and it is to examine the influence of Hollywood films on the moral values of Nigerian youths.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The largest sampling of contents of foreign films carried out by Harvard Medical School, reveals a disturbing amount of violence as well as unrealistic views of racial and sexual relationships. In another research carried out by Olaleye Victoria (2007), it was discovered that youths are greatly exposed to foreign films. To this end, this research seeks to validate that claim and find out how these films affect the moral values of Nigerian youths, using Covenant University Students as study.
OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
To find out if Covenant University students watch Hollywood films.
To find out if Hollywood films shape the attitudes, behaviors and general lifestyle of Covenant University students.
To find out if Covenant University students accept and practice American cultures and values, that they are exposed to through Hollywood films.
To find out ways through which Covenant University students cut down exposure to Hollywood films?
How many Covenant University students watch Hollywood films?
Do Hollywood films shape the attitudes, behaviors and general lifestyle of Covenant University students?
Do Covenant University students accept and practice the American cultures and values that they are exposed to through Hollywood films?
What are the ways through which Covenant University students cut down exposure to Hollywood films?
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The significance of this study lies in that fact that it will intimate youths of the inherent consequences of the films they watch, Hollywood films to be specific. It will also be significant to anybody studying youth behaviors and maladjustment, by providing a background on the origin of certain attitudes and behaviors that Nigerian youth engage in.
SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study was restricted to Nigeria youths. The sample population is Covenant University students. The researcher studied the colleges in the university, which are;
College of Development studies. Subdivided into,
School of Human Resource Development
School of Social Science
School Of Business studies
College of Science and technology.
School of Engineering
School of Natural and applied science
School of environmental studies
LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The limitations to this study include:
Time was a great limiting factor to the expanding of my research zone because lectures were combined with the writing of this project and the duration of about three to four weeks was not enough for an assignment of this nature.
Paucity of materials
Apparently there has been little research work on this topic and many of these works were not readily available for use.
OPERATIONALIZATION OF TERMS
Moral values are the standards of good and evil, which govern an individual’s behavior and choices. Individual’s morals may derive form society and government, religion, or self.
Hollywood is a district in Los Angeles, California. It has long been a film and an entertainment center, in the USA. Hollywood films are films or movies produced in America or films produced y American film producers.
This the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behaviors or opinions of others.
CHAPTER TWO LITERATURE REVIEW
HISTORY OF FILMS
According to Thompson, (2003) Mechanisms for producing created, two-dimensional images in motion were demonstrated as early as the 1800’s, with devices such as the Zoopraxiscope and kinescope. These machines were outgrowths of simple optical devices (such as the Kodak cameras), and would display sequences of still pictures at sufficient speed for the images on the pictures to appear to be moving. A phenomenon called persistence of vision. Naturally, the images needed to be carefully designed to achieve the desired effect and the underlying principle became the basis for the development of films. With the development of celluloid film for still photography, it became possible to capture objects in motion directly and in real time. By 1880’s, the motion picture cameras were developed, these cameras allowed the individual component images to be captured and stored on a single reel, and led quickly to the development of a motion picture projector to shine light through the processed and printed film and magnify these “moving pictures shows” onto a screen for the entire audience. These reels so exhibited became known as motion pictures. Motion pictures were purely visual art up the late 19th century, but these innovative silent films had gained a hold on the public imagination. Around the turn of the 20th century, films began developing a narrative structure. Films began stringing scenes together to tell stories. Other techniques such as camera movement were used as a more effective way to portray a film. The next major development in film was introduction of colors. While the addition of sound quickly eclipsed silent film and theater musicians, color was adopted gradually. According to Olaleye, (2007), the public were relatively indifferent to color photography as opposed to black and white. But as color processes improved and became as affordable as black and white film, more films were then shot in color after the end of World War II. By the end of 1960’s color had become the norm for film makers.
YOUTHS AND FILMS
Researchers have empirically proved that most films appeal to the emotions of its viewers and ultimately affect their worldview. Because of the developing emotions of adolescents, films can have a huge effect on their lives. In a study of the retention rate of film details between different age groups, Rosen (1971) found out that both children and adults remember best, materials that have high emotional appeal that they easily understand and is concerned with the movie plot. The materials that youths will emotionally relate with differ from that of adults and children. Youths are most likely to become emotionally interested in the situations that concern their changing views of the world and growing status in the society. These issues include identity formation, college life, moving away from home, driving and cutting out parental control. Bello (2011) The level of emotional involvement of youths, with film content can affect aspects of their psychosocial development. In the Nigerian society, the situation is quite alarming, in that, Hollywood films considerably influence attitudes and moral values of youths; and worse still, Nollywood films, which are mostly anchored on western models, consolidate these films; thereby promoting western values in the Nigerian societies. This is not to say that films are completely negative. Huesman and Morse (1998) noted that films are media of choice for many adolescents. It shows them some interaction and experiences which they may have encountered or will encounter latter in their development. Olaleye (2007) also added that while wrong films give youth’s wrong ideas, watching films does benefit youths cognitive development. The sexuality of youths in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa is seriously going through transformation from what it used to be in the past. Bello (2011) attributes this to the effect of modernization caused by industrialization, education, exposure, and enculturation, through the importation of foreign films and cultures that are alien to the Nigerian cultures and values. Unfortunately, the internet has contributed in no small measure, to the removal of guilt, fear, and shame associated with unconventional sexual activities. In a study carried out by longe et al (2001) it was discovered that, the sexuality trends among youths in Nigeria today is culturally alien to Nigerian society in the past. The authors further pointed out that among other factors,exposure, and enculturation through various foreign films especially American ones have been widely responsible for the ugly situation. It is therefore important for youths to understand that images are sometimes used to manipulate people and that these images are powerful enough to persuade us to buy certain products or encourage us to behave in a particular way. There is a need for youths to be able to differentiate between information and misinformation, truth and fabrication.
One area media effects debate that has attracted much interest is the effects of television violence and sexually explicit material portrayed in films on children and youths. Kalin (1994) in his study of media effects says television program serves as a black board from which the children and the youth copy violent behavior. Research has shown that human beings begin imitating other humans at a very early age, and the observation of the behaviors of others is the likely source of many of young child social skills Bandura, (1977). Access to visual media has increased dramatically in the past decade, with cassettes recorders, cable, and satellite television greatly expanding the children and young adults to movies and programs intended for adults. Although propensity for violence is unique in America, in Nigeria the same can be said of televised sexually explicit materials. This is believed to have effect on how children perceive the world and how they behave. Media effects studies have examined the negative effects that result from the vicarious capacity, such as the learning of aggressive behavior through viewing film violence. When carried to its worst extreme, the modeling of such behavior
has linked to violence and brutal “
copycat” Olaleye (2007). According to Meltzoff and Moore (1977), heavy exposure to television is believed to be one of the causes of aggressive behavior, crime, and violence in the society. The potential of the mass media for social mobilization, education, and attitude change has been recognized and has been exploited in different parts of the world with varying degrees of success. But the effect that the mass media will produce at given situation still remains a subject of debate even today.
Summing up what was known about the effect of the mass media, Berelson (1948) submitted that some kinds of communication on some kinds of issues brought to their attention of some kinds of people under some kinds of conditions have some kinds of effect.
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PICTURES AND HUMAN BEHAVIOR
With few exemptions, everybody, social scientist, Movie makers, and nonprofessionals seem to agree that there is a profound relationship between motion pictures and human behavior. The initial important question is in the way in which these relationships are to be conceived. Any investigation on this filed will be predicted on certain assumption about human collective behavior about how human being give and receive information and about how the individual comprehend his social roles and identify that of others. Psychologist Bartlett (1990) argues that the process by which the individual comes to terms with his environment is dynamic and creative rather than passive and static. The individual does passively respond to the situation. Rather he responds to the situation selectively and creatively. This is cognition. Motion pictures achieve their effect because they help the individual organize his world. The effects, which motion pictures have, imply that the films, as stimuli, have specific effects on an inert audience that are in some manners especially impressionable, and hence may be affected or swayed in a given direction. This one direction conception of effects is widely held. The supposed inactiveness of motion picture audience has enthralled many people; and forms the basis of many attitudes and beliefs about the supposed good and bad effects of the film. There is this view that the effects of the motion picture on behavior and attitudes are small and transitory. This seems to be the underlying attitude of those, which characterize motion pictures as mere entertainment. The much-publicized statement is that Hollywood’s chief function is to provide entertainment and amusement or to create an opportunity for an anxiety-ridden population to escape into a land of fantasy. Bartlett, (1990) argues that the term “entertainment is psychologically ambiguous. When applied to films, the
term “purely entertainment” would appear to mean that motion picture may be made without meaningful content and without effect on those exposed to them. However, what is not obvious is that attitudes and perceptions are at work before and during exposure to mass media and that, they largely determine the communication that the individual is exposed. What he remembers of the communication how to interpret its contents, and the effect which mass communication have upon him; Anderson and Dill, (2000) support the hypothesis that visual image influence adolescent behavior. In another study, Sergeant, (2001) was of the opinion that a typical adolescent watching 150 film a year will be exposed to over 800 deceptions of overt immoral behaviors such as smoking and premarital sex.
Media imperialism as a notional framework that has been subsumed under the broader umbrella of cultural imperialism. According to White (2001 p.98), scholars of different academic backgrounds and persuasions in the areas of international relations, anthropology, education, science, history, and sports have used cultural imperialism as a framework to explain phenomena. He therefor reconsiders the concept of cultural imperialism theory as it relates to communication. White (2001:98) contends that a review of the international communication literature would reveal terms like, “media imperialism” (Boyd-Barret. 1977:38) “ media are American” (Tunstall, 1977:45) Cultural dependency and domination” (
Link, 1984; Mohamadi, 1995:387) these concepts and positions have been refigured and reformulated in the light of current debates on globalization, the public sphere, and the potential of the internet.
Cultural imperialism is the domination of one culture over another by deliberate policy or by economic or technological superiority. Cultural imperialism can take the form of an active formal policy or a general attitude. However, for us to understand properly the nature of cultural imperialism and its relationship with film, it is important to define culture. Taylor, (2004) defined culture as “that complex
whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, and law and any their capabilities and habit acquired by man as a member of that society. This means that culture is learnt, acquired, experienced, and transferred from one place to another through various ways. One of the, most influential means is the mass media and this is where films play important roles in the transitions of culture. According to Ekeanyanwu, (2005) cultural imperialism is the conjugation of a local culture and impositions of alien culture on local culture. The relationship between culture and communication is
clearly stated in Mac Bride report (1981 p.
30) “the media of communication are cultural instruments, which serve to promote or influence attitudes, to foster the spread of behavior patterns and to bring about social integration”. Downing and Sreberny- Mohammed, (2007 p.28) notes that imperialism is the conquest and control of one country by a more powerful one. Cultural imperialism signifies the dimensions of the process that go beyond economic exploitation or military force. Third world countries have been set up as replicas of Britain, France, or the United states and carry their value. Western advertising and films have made major inroads, as have architectural and fashion styles. Subtle but powerful, the message has often been insinuated that Western cultures are superior to the cultures of the third world. Adolescents start smoking in response to social influence, emulating the behaviors of friends family members, and other people they admire. The influence of smoking by friends and family members has been extensively studied. However, less attention has been given to the influence of the media other than tobacco advertising. Yet the typical adolescent spends 2-3 hours per day watching films.
Over the years, communication scholars have expressed theories to explain what happens in the communication arena. The following theories would serve the framework of this study. They are; Cultural norms theory. social learning theory and mainstreaming/synchronization theory.
CULTURAL NORMS THEORY
This theory charged that through selective presentation and tendentious emphasis on certain themes the mass media created the impression among their audience that such themes were part of the structure or clearly defined cultural norm as of the society. Simply put, the mass media influence norms by reinforcing or changing them. As a result impressionable members of the public tend to pattern their own behavior along respondents of such media presentation.
SOCIAL LEARNING THEORY
Social learning theory uphold the belief that individual; can learn aggressive behavior through imitating and modeling the behavior of television characters which they have observed. This theory is a perspective that states that social behavior is learned primarily by observing and imitating the actions of others. Albert Bandura proposed the theoretical beginning of this theory. He suggested that models are an important source for learning new behaviors and for achieving behavioral change in institutionalized settings. According to the social -learning theory, the likelihood that an individual will acquire an observed behavior is increased when the model performing the behavior is similar to or attractive to the viewer. The viewer identifies with the model. The context is realistic, and the viewed behavior is followed by rewarding consequences. (Bandura, 1977) The foreign films watched by Nigerian youths, perform all of the functions noted in both the observational theory and cultural norms theory. However is might be difficult to single it out as largely responsible for the cultural and moral shot-comings notes in our Nigerian youths.
This theory explains the process, especially for heavier viewers, by which television’s symbols monopolize and dominate other sources of information and ideas about the world. The theory has to angles: message analysis and cultivation analysis. Message analysis involves a detailed content analysis of selected media content (television) to assess recurring and consistent presentation of images, themes, values, and portrayals. Cultivation analysis deals with the effect of these messages on the selected audience. The assumption of cultivation analysis is that television/films create a worldview, in that people tend to perceives real things that are shown on television over time. So the more time Nigerian youths spend watching Hollywood films, it is possible that that they would assume that the values and mores that they see in it are they more acceptable way of life.
CHAPTER FIVE SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION
This research work has been able to examine the extent to which Nigerian youths are influenced by Hollywood films. The first chapter introduced the study. Chapter two discoursed relevant literatures, it also touched on media and cultural imperialism, it then provided the theoretical framework backing this research. Chapter three dealt with research methodology while chapter four discussed the data gotten from the research. The research questions were also answered here. The study was able to establish that Hollywood films have negative effects on the moral values of Nigerian youths and they have little or no ability to control it.
Watching Hollywood films is just one factor that affects the moral values of Nigerian youths. Although these youths are from different backgrounds and orientation, it has been established that Hollywood films determine the social and moral attitudes of Nigerian youths, the respondents were of the opinion that although they have learnt about new cultures form Hollywood films, the negative effects outweigh the positive.
Since it has been proven that Hollywood films have a not so good effect on the Moral values of Nigerian youths, I therefore recommend the following as correctional measures;
Nigerians should work more on local content. If Nollywood films produce high quality video and intriguing story lines, the way the Hollywood film does, I believe that most Nigerian youths would opt for it. By so doing, the films would promote our indigenous values through that medium.
The government should increase censorship of Hollywood films. The censorship board should extend their scope to foreign films and ban the importation of these films that are suicidal to the moral values of our youths.
Courses on film production should be introduced as general course in our institutions to enable our youths to realize that what they see in films are most times mere imaginations of the directors and films producers, and they are far from being real.