The Media Amplification of Sexual Deviance

Posted by M ws On Sunday, October 21, 2012 4 comments
As an educator, mother, blogger and citizen, I am deeply distressed about two moral issues currently plaguing our local scene. We must always remember that we are not in solitary existence. There must be a deep sense of accountability, responsibility and morality in what we say and do, especially publicly and even more in virtual space. Whatever we do privately is of course private. However, when what is private becomes public and challenges social mores, I believe the siren is wailing to tell us that the signs of dysfunctional and deviant values have reared its ugly heads in the real world, our country and the Asian region. Worse still, the mass media and online portals have jumped on the bandwagon  in the glorification, amplification and magnification of the scenario that directly challenges cultural, religious, moral, legal values/guidelines.

The setting for my rant is the disclosure of the sexual antics of a young Malaysian couple and their nonchalant stand about their behaviour, values and motives because I believe every person must be responsible in his/her actions because everything one says or does (especially in virtual reality) will eventually influence/affect his/her immediate circle being family and friends and the community in which he/she lives.

First of all, I wish to say that I am not judging anyone here but I am very concerned about the way the whole situation has been blown out of proportion. Most importantly, I am very appalled at how the MSM delights in reporting what the couple says about the situation because ultimately, such airing may affect the values, perceptions and perspectives of wider society (especially the youth) in an IT-savvy society. Of course we all know that any story on sexual deviance sells. However, to splash a photograph of the girl's face on the front page knowing full well that she may be kicked out of the home if conditions are not met is certainly a possible indication at how corporate social responsibility may be at stake in the pursuit of readership!!!

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy functions as a built-in, self-regulating mechanism whereby a business monitors and ensures its active compliance with the spirit of the law, ethical standards, and international norms. CSR is a process with the aim to embrace responsibility for the company's actions and encourage a positive impact through its activities on the environment, consumers, employees, communities, stakeholders and all other members of the public sphere who may also be considered as stakeholders. MORE HERE.

A sensible and educated person should also uphold social responsibility in his/her life to recognize that personal behavior affects others and that one should ultimately be accountable to others, especially the family and the law, or actions/words said.

It is understandable that one who is not refined or educated may demonstrate inconsiderate/rude behavior and then to displace his/her responsibility to others by blaming the external environment for pushing them to such acts of deviance.

Any sensible person with a right mind would try to affect others positively to make the world (or at least the community in which he/she lives) a better place.

The actors of the social scene are no ordinary persons but two young adults who have gone through tertiary education - an ASEAN scholar who has yet to graduate from the law faculty and the other who graduated from a local public university.

Consider the immeasurable trail of damage left behind by their disclosures - the cumulative effects of their behavior/public statements on:

a) their parents
b) their immediate family members and relatives
c) their other agents of socialization who would be wondering where they went wrong with them - e.g. teachers, religious leaders, community leaders, neighbours etc.

Did they show any consideration for their loved ones and friends?

Did they show any concern and/or awareness of how what they did/said impacted others and affected the social ambiance and reputation of the young adults of our country from those who are not Malaysians?

Tragically, I doubt they even realize the effect of what they did and said realistically lasts much longer than the acts portrayed in their postings/interviews.

Their perspectives centres on 'I' and 'We'.

Did they consider or care about the impression that others have on them both on a short-term or long-term basis on their:

a) familial and social relationships - How would their parents, siblings, relatives and friends care and relate to them knowing that they not share their frame of reference in this issue?
Do they care that they have actually hurt themselves when they hurt their loved ones?
b) social standing - How can they appear anywhere publicly in full knowledge that many might have seen their intimate physical details?
c) career path - What would be in the minds of would-be employers who might be questioning their value systems? Worse still, there could be those who might take advantage of them e.g. in the endorsement of certain types of toys or demanding certain favours etc.
b) business opportunities - What would potential business associates think of them, their value system and integrity or morality etc?

Consider this analogy. If one throws rubbish indiscriminately anywhere and anytime, one pollutes the community in which one lives and ultimately, boomerangs back to the irresponsible one.

Honestly, I believe we all have but one life and it is up to us whether we make it count or only make it count for OURSELVES.

Imagine what kind of society we would have if everyone did not uphold socially acceptable values, customs, expectations etc and only concentrated on making money regardless of the means.

Then, narcissistic beings or a narcissistic society would NOT care because they do not realize:
  • how everything we do matters because it affects all around us
  • how the doing results in the 'having' because it will contribute to the baggage one will carry forever. E.g. how will they justify their actions to their children in future?
  • the need to do their part to build a better society/world INSTEAD of desensitizing other youths to the importance of social conformity to maintain social order and throw them into a state of normlessness
  • etc....
I am deeply saddened. My heart goes out to their parents who must be hurting so badly inside. Is there no love and respect left for themselves as young people? Is there complete disregard for conformity in the pursuit of individualism??? May there be people around them who can counsel, lead and guide them to practise individual social responsibility. You can read more about Individual Social Responsibility HERE.

The way the media has gone to town with this issue is sickening. What is their real motive? Can it be perceived as glorification, amplification and magnification of deviance?

Is such sexual deviance newsworthy? Where is their corporate social responsibility? What sort of genuine news values are present in the situation that merited such airing by so many types of media? In this way, they are indirectly telling them and others that such deviant acts are acceptable because it can bring you fame, name and that it is all part of the game of life! :-(

Are they endorsing what they did? Social responsibility can never be cultivated by promoting anything that directly goes against our value, legal and moral system such as lewd and lascivious content. Yes, I know it is a scene where the two individuals were exercising their personal choices in their acts but making them public and then to be elevated for public scrutiny via air space or articles in the MSM is sending another message to the wider society, particularly the younger set.

In an age where one can:
  • access unsavoury websites with the click of the mouse
  • upload anything anywhere anytime also with the click of the mouse
  • where one can snap pics or record scenes anytime and anywhere and post it publicly also with the click of the mouse....

surely the media can play its role by sending a more responsible message to society and be a CSR citizen!

Think about the following scandals:
  • Savile BBC case
  • Sandusky football sexual abuse case
  • Lance Armstrong doping revelations etc
  • Tiger Woods
  • Bill Clinton and the flak he received for the Lewinsky case
  • Arnold-Schwarzenegger
  • etc and of course - our own home-grown political sex scandals
Think about:

a) how the local and foreign media reported it
b) how the guilty ones reacted when interviewed:

Did they CELEBRATE their acts?
Were they smiling from ear to ear?
Did they express remorse for what they did?
Did they say that others are 'sexually repressed'?

My bone of contention is not what they do privately but publicly and also how the situation was reported.

Compare it with reports on the Savile Scandal HERE. The family was so ashamed that they even removed Savile's tombstone and his is now an unmarked grave. That is the DEPTH of the remorse, sadness and despair felt by the family members as a result of Savile's actions.

Compare it with reports on the local issue HERE, particularly by the MSM.

I am sure many cannot fathom the rationale, justification or reactions the couple has displayed nor can many comprehend why they can still be smiling when filmed or photographed in the post-exposure period. Neither can I.

There are many  theories for deviance including:

I. Rational choice theory including:
  • classical deterrence theory 
  • control theory
  • routine activities theory.
II. Structural-functional theories such as:
  • Classic functionalism
  • Social Disorganization Theory
  • Anomie Theory
III. Symbolic interactionalist theories including:
  • Classic symbolic interactionist theory
  • Differential Association theory
  • Neutralization theory
  • Labeling theory
IV. Conflict theories such as:
  • Marxian Theory
  • Group Conflict Theory
  • Feminist Theory.
You can read more about them HERE and HERE.

Whatever the case, I am quite sure that it is highly probable that there could be a myriad of reasons why they did what they did and that those who know them cannot understand the motives either. May they have closure on this issue and move on to a better life instead of capitalizing on this scenario for mercenary purposes.

One of the first topics I learnt as an undergraduate in journalism class was news values. Consider the following points by Wikipedia which I have posted at the end of this post. I just hope that the media can seriously consider their corporate social responsibility role in such situations and report such incidents in such a way that it deters rather than encourages such forms of behaviour.

All in all, we can clearly see the pervasive influence of the internet on not only the way we communicate but also on our value system. What sort of society do we have when some are proud of deviance and others glorify it? Where are we heading? Is society regressing? Not sure? Check out THIS LINK and another one HERE and HERE. Make your own conclusions and if possible, please share your views. Thanks.


News Values - from Wikipedia

News values, sometimes called news criteria, determine how much prominence a news story is given by a media outlet, and the attention it is given by the audience. A. Boyd states that: "News journalism has a broadly agreed set of values, often referred to as 'newsworthiness'..."News values are not universal and can vary widely between different cultures. In Western practice, decisions on the selection and prioritization of news are made by editors on the basis of their experience and intuition, although analysis by J. Galtung and M. Ruge showed that several factors are consistently applied across a range of news organizations.

Conditions for News

  1. Frequency: Events that occur suddenly and fit well with the news organization's schedule are more likely to be reported than those that occur gradually or at inconvenient times of day or night. Long-term trends are not likely to receive much coverage.
  2. Negativity: Bad news is more newsworthy than good news.
  3. Unexpectedness: If an event is out of the ordinary it will have a greater effect than something that is an everyday occurrence.
  4. Unambiguity: Events whose implications are clear make for better copy than those that are open to more than one interpretation, or where any understanding of the implications depends on first understanding the complex background in which the events take place.
  5. Personalization: Events that can be portrayed as the actions of individuals will be more attractive than one in which there is no such "human interest."
  6. Meaningfulness: This relates to the sense of identification the audience has with the topic. "Cultural proximity" is a factor here -- stories concerned with people who speak the same language, look the same, and share the preoccupations as the audience receive more coverage than those concerned with people who speak different languages, look different and have different preoccupations.
  7. Reference to elite nations: Stories concerned with global powers receive more attention than those concerned with less influential nations.
  8. Reference to elite persons: Stories concerned with the rich, powerful, famous and infamous get more coverage.
  9. Conflict: Opposition of people or forces resulting in a dramatic effect. Stories with conflict are often quite newsworthy.
  10. Consonance: Stories that fit with the media's expectations receive more coverage than those that defy them (and for which they are thus unprepared). Note this appears to conflict with unexpectedness above. However, consonance really refers to the media's readiness to report an item.
  11. Continuity: A story that is already in the news gathers a kind of inertia. This is partly because the media organizations are already in place to report the story, and partly because previous reportage may have made the story more accessible to the public (making it less ambiguous).
  12. Composition: Stories must compete with one another for space in the media. For instance, editors may seek to provide a balance of different types of coverage, so that if there is an excess of foreign news for instance, the least important foreign story may have to make way for an item concerned with the domestic news. In this way the prominence given to a story depends not only on its own news values but also on those of competing stories. (Galtung and Ruge, 1965)
  13. Competition: Commercial or professional competition between media may lead journalists to endorse the news value given to a story by a rival.
  14. Co-optation: A story that is only marginally newsworthy in its own right may be covered if it is related to a major running story.
  15. Prefabrication: A story that is marginal in news terms but written and available may be selected ahead of a much more newsworthy story that must be researched and written from the ground up.
  16. Predictability: An event is more likely to be covered if it has been pre-scheduled. (Bell, 1991)
  17. Time constraints: Traditional news media such as radio, television and daily newspapers have strict deadlines and a short production cycle, which selects for items that can be researched and covered quickly.
  18. Logistics: Although eased by the availability of global communications even from remote regions, the ability to deploy and control production and reporting staff, and functionality of technical resources can determine whether a story is covered. (Schlesinger, 1987)

4 comments to The Media Amplification of Sexual Deviance

  1. says:

    Taikohtai Two Pali words came to mind when reading your article:
    hiri and ottappa
    Many thanks.

  1. says:

    Antares Interesting to read your reaction to the Alvin & Vivian saga. I agree with you that media often toes the bottom line and goes for sensationalism as a marketing tool. It has always been the case and I look forward to the day when this addictive substance called "the news" is no longer fed on a daily basis 24/7 to a bunch of passive consumers of holographic reality.

    As for the "morality" or "immorality" of Alvin & Vivian's virtual exhibitionism, there are as many ways to look at it as there are ways to gratify one's prurient interests. The one glaring issue I have been voicing for a very long time is how humans unquestioningly overreact to sexual indiscretions - while remaining totally blase about corporate greed and dishonest advertising, for instance. I find the lust for money far more reprehensible any day than people's desire for erotic gratification. In fact, I have absolutely no issue with people who happen to be highly sexed and therefore motivated to indulge in all kinds of exotic sex - just as I think it's perfectly all right to be asexual and disinterested in biological promptings. In the end, such activities - like making love, making music, making cookies, etc are at least creative artforms and do minimal harm to the environment and to other life-forms.

    On the other hand, corporate greed can result in the irreversible devastation of forests, oceans, the atmosphere, and the collective psyche. Why aren't people more outraged by the sight of trees being felled and sold like so much dead wood in the marketplace? I regard trees as living beings with every right to existence apart from serving human demands for furniture or disposable newspapers. For us to keep quiet for 30 years while somebody like Taib Mahmud or Muhammad Muhammad Taib singlehandedly despoils an entire ecosystem - to me that is the greatest of all obscenities imaginable! If any of my kids were to become loggers, miners or drillers of oil - I would feel deep shame and displeasure. I would seriously consider disowning them, in fact.

    What if my any of my kids opted for a temporary job as a pole-dancer, porn-star or pornographer? I would be greatly amused and tease them endlessly - but I'd feel absolutely no shame. At the most I might feel slightly regretful that I am too inhibited myself to attempt to earn money from other people's sexual cravings.

    I suppose that's why society and I don't have much in common. Different definitions of "obscene" I guess. And, unlike society, I have never once in my life experienced "sexual guilt" - feeling ashamed to be part animal, part angel. That could be the result of having deprogrammed myself at an early age from subscribing to any anthropomorphic notion of an erotophobic, control-freak God!

    Anyway, in a political climate where idiots like the "Datuk T" team from Umno can publicly screen porn footage in a futile attempt to damage a rival's reputation - and yet get off with only a token fine and no public censure, no criminal prosecution for attempted blackmail (which is exactly what it was all about)... how can we point fingers at two people in their early 20s for being a wee bit kinky?

  1. says:

    masterwordsmith Dear Taikotai

    Thank you for your response. To be honest, I feel the same way but did not mention it as I did not want to sound judgemental. Thank you for resonating with my heart in this issue. Take care and God bless you. Do stay in touch.

    Best wishes

  1. says:

    masterwordsmith My dear Antares

    Thank you so much for such a passionate response and for speaking from the depths of your heart.

    I fully appreciate what you have shared and agree with you. However, my concern as expressed here is largely from a sociological viewpoint with regards to the impact on the younger generation.

    In reality, I am no prig but I guess I am quite particular where certain aspects of life are concerned, especially with regards to the family.

    I believe anyone has the right to enjoy whatever he or she loves be it food or sex or whatever but there has to be some element of accountability, propriety, sense and sensibility.

    No one is perfect but I am concerned how this might affect different types of perception in the future.

    Thank you for voicing your concerns too with regards to the MSM's value system in marketing. I laud MCMC's stand in withholding approval for their pre-recorded radio interview.

    Take care, dear Antares. Talk to you soon!!

    Hugs and much love

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