Like It or Not, The Media Shapes our Views of Reality

In 2013, Vice President Joe Biden stated as fact that Jewish industry leaders in Hollywood and social media had more to do with the normalization of America’s perception of gay marriage than any other force.

Shows like Will and Grace or the Queer Eye franchise gave American’s a view of the LGBT lifestyle that was more than just that of an abnormal, sinful, or weird lifestyle. This is the very essence of what is known in sociology as the Normalization Process Theory, developed by Carl May.

When we are exposed to a new concept, action, or idea, it’s natural to first be apprehensive or even callous or judgmental toward the newness. As we are around it, our opinion begins to change — sometimes for the worse (i.e. if we solely have negative experiences), but most of the time when we engage with others we see people for what they are. . . people.

This is the entire point of the whole Dukes of Hazzard debate — that media shapes our opinions of people AND symbols can and do change meanings and emphasis over time.

For instance, in 1977, when the Sex Pistols sang about Anarchy in the U.K., they really meant it. It was a manifestation of their rebellious nature.

In 2015, when Motley Crue sings the same song in front of huge crowds of middle-aged, overweight professionals, it’s solely for entertainment value, as the entire audience could probably universally agree that anarchy would ruin their 401k’s and lifestyles.

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The only Confederate flag that matters in 2015.

Therein lies the dilemma. The Dukes of Hazzard was not a racist show, other than portraying Southerners as a bunch of dumb rednecks, bootlegging 50 years after Prohibition ended while driving around in a car that cost more than the shack they lived in. The “rebel flag” on the General Lee was a symbol of their rebellion, not an overt expression of subjugation of blacks or a continuance of the slave culture of the antebellum South.

But in 2015, the Confederate battle flag has become a symbol of the remaining vestiges of slavery and the injustices of the Civil Rights movement.

The entire mythos of the “Lost Cause” built up as a rationalization of the Southern’s loss created a heritage of the South seeing themselves as the wounded victims of the Civil War and that Northern aggression, not the dismantling of the Missouri Compromise, which was the root cause of the war.

Arguing that the Confederate battle flag is about Southern heritage is almost as ludicrous as Germans flying the Nazi-flag in remembrance of their WWII heritage (which, incidentally, is forbidden in Germany by law).

The Ku Klux Klan, and other white-supremacy groups, have used the Confederate battle flag and the Nazi flag for far longer than the Confederacy or the Nazi party used them. A simple Google search of pictures of KKK rallies will retrieve hundreds of pictures of both flags being used. It is impossible for media companies like Warner Bros. to ignore the fact that its use is primarily one of bigotry and hatred in 2015.

As a federal republic, America will always have regional divides. But in 2015, the media and Americans at large need to eradicate the last remnants of the regional divides that caused the Civil War. Because in the end, the only Confederate flag that matters is the torn white towel used at Appomattox Courthouse, still preserved for us today at the Smithsonian.