chapter  1
15 Pages

Threats to Mind, Morality, and Society

BySteven Starker

The story of the mass media in America reads much like the case history of a public health menace. Each technological innovation, or new media application, promptly has been declared a serious threat to the character and mental abilities of children, the behavior of teenagers, the morality and intelligence of adults, and the sanctity of the American way of life. The hypodermic needle theory postulates an insidious, well-nigh irresistible force inherent in the media, which attacks our minds, morals, children, families, and entire society. An "evil influence," Socrates was removed from Greek society by outraged citizens seeking to preserve and protect the values and morals of their culture and their children. Simple theories of evil media influence have been applied again and again. In the 1920s, for example, the motion picture came under attack for its evil influence upon American audiences. Those who deem mass media an evil influence condemn mass culture as one of the fruits of evil influence.