English Essay

Doing a summary response essay, looking for comments, suggestions, corrections thanks!!!!!!

I see them. We all see them. They are powerful, hypnotic and persuasive. Images. We cannot pry our eyes from them. We can shut the books and magazines if we do not like the writings. We can walk away from people if we do not want to hear the words. We cannot do that with images. They surround us transmitting visual messages into our brains. How can we discern between the myths and truths of the images?

In “Power of Images: Creating the Myths of Our Time,” J. Francis Davis believes communication by images with its voluminous exposure and alluring advertisements has overpowered what can be considered traditional methods of communication, oral and written. Davis studies the effects images have in the consumer lifestyle. First, he provides the history and evolution of varied communication methods, the influence each one had on the social landscape. Second, he explains the focus is on the creation of messages, hidden within the context of the images and its impact in defining social values. Third, the author declares the use of images as a tool to educe a reaction on different emotional levels. Fourth, Davis lays out the concept of the “new myths” (2), myths that imply that if you buy the message, the lifestyle can be vastly improved. Finally, the author concludes that the image culture is hurting by giving everything we visually need, only to “feel a sense of dissatisfaction, a void that the myths of the image culture and the material goods they sell do little to fill” (4). Davis encourages us to analyze and question the messages relayed by the images, we then might be able to look beyond the superficialities of the images and see the true message.

The points made by Davis have some merit but overall I believe his views slant substantially in painting a picture of negativity of media images. By not providing examples of opposing views, Davis leaves the reader no choice but to question whether his arguments and the evidence provided to support them can hold up under close scrutiny.

Although, I disagree with the full context of the Davis’s article, I agree with some of his points. Davis’s point on how a single powerful image can invoke deep emotions and memories is something that I can relate to with my own experiences. The emotions of sense of loss and deep sorrow awaken in me every time I see the image of the plane hitting the tower in the 9/11 terrorist attack. Davis effectively points out that the myths hurt us if we do not learn to look beyond the images and decipher the truths. I’ve fallen prey to the “you got to have this” mentality of television advertising. Maybe if I had taken a moment to analyze the advertisement, I would have determined that I did not “have to get it”.

Davis’s purpose is to augment the arguments of social reformists that look to minimize the power that mass media images have over our decisions. By providing negative examples of how the images shown to us by the machine that is mass media affects our choices, he hopes to provide evidence to bring about changes in the way mass media presents the images. This perspective for the intended audience is fine; however, to someone not in the social reform spectrum, it is too generalized and sensationalized without adequate evidence to support it.

Davis supports his idea that images are harmful by using the term “red herring. What is this “red herring”? Davis’s just throws the phrase out there with nothing to explain how it strengthens his argument. He also uses Don Quixote as an analogy. By using this analogy, Davis is implying that we are fighting an invisible opponent. This opponent is the message in the images that we do not see. For Davis, every image has a hidden message. The message intended by using Don Quixote could possibly more aptly been given using a current work as the analogy.

In fundamentally disagreeing with Davis, I believe that images are not necessarily harmful nor create myths. The myths are in our mind, not the images. How we as humans interpret images, is what makes them powerful or useless. The power is within us to control them. Our own beliefs magnify or ignore the message of the images. We see what we want to see and hear what we want to hear, it is human nature. “Our sensory perceptions are altered by both internal and external physical conditions and help heighten, diminish, accept or reject mass messages” ( Hiebert Bohn, Ungurait, Donald, Bohn, Thomas 164).

Davis fails to provide us with sufficient evidence on how images are harmful and create his list of “new myths” (A2). For example, in his myth “The world is a dangerous place and we need guns, police and military to protect us” (A2), Davis argument is that this image of violence creates fear in us and we need to protect ourselves. Where is the evidence to support it? Give me facts and statistics, a poll or a survey to indicate that this what people think. Davis sees this in his mind. My mind sees only information. I want to know what is going in my community, in the nation, in the world. This is the world we live in now. Do these images strike fear in me? No. Do they cause me to be aware of my surroundings? Yes.

In conclusion, although Davis’s article on the power of these new myths has some validity because it examines the rise of the image culture and its power, it is limited by the focus on the negativity of the images and the creation of myths. Maybe if the focus had been on the power of the mind and the interpretation of images based on our own experiences, Davis’s would have reached a broader audience. The mind creates truths not myths.

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asked by Marco
  1. The one criticism I would make is that you need to put paragraphs 3 and 4 together. Otherwise, the reader is misled slightly about how you believe. Other that that, the logic, grammar and structure are very good. Be sure to check your punctuation. You have a few places where you need a comma to separate a dependent clause.

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    posted by GuruBlue
  2. Thanks GuruBlue for the feedback. I will look for those clauses. Although it's not my forte.

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    posted by Marco

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