Youth activists growing up in media saturated world tend to believe that spectacle, creativity and direct action can generate news coverage. Depending on the extent that is done, the paper will determine whether this is a positive or a negative perception of the youth by the media. The media has played a big role in the image, which the youth put in the recent times; it has been more of stereotypically negative and overlapping the positive side of these young adults. The aim of this paper is to analyze one positive and one negative way the media portrays young people and the attitude and expectations of the young people about adulthood.
In 2000, Bay Area youth activists were catalyzed by California’s Proposition 21 which was the juvenile justice measures backed by Gov. Pete Wilson. In response to the anti-gang ordinances and laws passed by a large margin after a funding by Wilson’s corporate pals such as Chevron, Pacifica Gas, and Hilton Hotels, a coalition, Critical Resistance Youth Force, was formed. Later they organized demonstrations which were named, “storming the funders’’ but the mainstream media were hesitant to cover the extensive educational campaigns organized by the coalition.
The Prop 21 is an example where the media portrays youth in a negative manner just because they are holding demonstrations. The media is only fond of reporting outright negative delinquencies of the youth but shy off when the youth want their voice to be aired by the same media. For instance, the demonstrations organized by the Critical Resistance (CR) are meant to set up an international movement that will stop the operation of the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC). Through the movement, CR intends to challenge the belief held by mostly adults such as Wilson and his Pals that people are kept safe when they are controlled and caged. Instead, the movement advocates that security in the community is realistically met by the provision of basic necessities such as food, shelter and freedom (Geiser, n.d.).
Implying a good vision, CR movement has an objective of joining their voices in the global struggles against powerlessness and inequality. The movement also wants to focus on the communities, which the existence has been affected most and therefore the media is called upon to stop fearing the authorities, come out, and cover this new good movement championed by the youth. The movement seeks to have the PIC abolished and therefore the demonstrations are constructive in nature (Critical Resistance, n.d.). Although the mainstream media keeps off covering the manifestation, other forms of media that do so portray the pictures of young people holding peaceful demonstration. This is unlike the stereotypically expected one by the media. Therefore, the movement is determined not to support any attempts to extend the existence of the prison.
The context portrayed by the prop 21 scenarios show that they use media to put across their views on a matter faces the challenge of the prevailing picture, which presents youth as gangsters or super predators. From this case study, the youth color that metaphorically refers to the true color of the young people, demands a fair, more balanced portrayal of youth, as victims and perpetrators and also as epitome of creativity that will lead to a better community.
On the other hand, the media has often portrayed young adults in a very negative manner. The perspective of youth and the generational change where the young people are focused to be a threat to the order already established. The politicians, the media and other professionals as well as policy makers commonly subscribe to this school of thought. In this media influenced image, the adolescents are assumed to be a transition from childhood to adulthood, which involves a rebellious phase treated as a cultural tradition passed on from one generation to another. Young people are portrayed to lead a life of separateness from adults, for instance, their ignorance of the many ways shared with the older people. Some of the important ways shared are culture, their class background, often, their gender identity and also geographical location.
This approach by the media presents the adolescence as a difficult age group, which is possibly a dangerous time, firstly for the young people themselves, and secondly for the entire society. This calls for intervention of older people and even professionals to provide the guidance. This image also casts the fear that the young people may not complete the ‘process of development’ to reach properly a normal adulthood. To the society, it is feared that there is not going to be a successful transfer of social conventions from the previous generation to the next. Thus, when the young people do not allow themselves to grow up and have some values and cultural patterns inherited from the previous generation, then that will be a perfect indication that they are a threat to the traditional order.
In early 1970s, Stanley Cohen described how the young people’s media representatives in the 1960s portrayed the young people as ‘folk devils’ and thus creating what Cohen referred to as a ‘moral panic’ about youth as a threat. He emphasized that media created these images about the youth by focusing on the ‘mods and rockers’ in a Britain’s seaside town where he demonstrated how a perceived threat of unrest and violence were fostered by the media (Williams & Thurlow, 2005). The young people expect that the adulthood would bean ability to live a life to the fullest, embracing change as it comes, but not being tied to the old outdated traditions. They therefore do not get so surprised about some of the seemly negative media portrayal.
Young people’s expectation is that they do not need any protection from the adults for they consider themselves mature and can make decisions, which can run their life without any harm. For that reason, many believe that there should not be any effort by anyone to stop them from access to all information. The issue of access to censored material such as hard - core pornography by youths and anyone else draws a lot of debate, thusn listening to them and considering their thoughts about the media is important (Geiser, n.d.).
This paper ’Positive are Negative’, the discussion focuses on the media covering the young people either in a positive or in a negative manner. The media is biased, for it is seen to focus more on the crimes rebellion and violence among the youth, and very rarely, can it cover and address of the positive developments that take part in their lives. For that reason, the youth have developed negative attitude towards adulthood for the failure to notice their potential and therefore they expect to be given freedom to express themselves in the way they think is best.