So, how does ideology related to the above statistical pattern? The conservative owners of leading media houses want to “preach” their viewers what is good conduct and what is not. The way they do it is by “showing” what acceptable conduct is. While the moral merits of their beliefs are irrelevant to the essay, their role as the moral custodians of society is highly objectionable. The worrying aspect of this subtle coercion of values into the citizenry is that the viewers are not even aware of it, which makes them vulnerable to ideological indoctrination.
The portrayal of crime and violence is also subject to ideological manipulation. For example,
“Television crime dramas are part of the media presentation of crime and criminals, and they represent an element in the construction of reality about crime by the viewing public. A review of the portrayal of homicide in TV crime dramas is not completely consistent with the official data. An adequate explanation of cause, beyond the plot motive, is lacking in the dramatic portrayal of homicide. Viewing audiences are left with plot motives to explain homicides, and plot motives often legitimize crime fighting proposals and placement of responsibility consistent with an individually oriented explanatory ideology.” (Fabianic, 196)
It is common knowledge that most people watch soap operas to connect emotionally with the characters and in the process having a cathartic experience. In fact, soap opera producers and advertisers alike have exploited this aspect of human psychology for commercial gains. From the way in which visual and aural information is presented to the audience, a desired consumerist response could be elicited. The soap opera producers and sponsors tap into the “processing of a fear-appeal message following emotional programming” (Potter, 72). In other words, the viewers are sold concepts favorable to a consumerist ideology at such moments in the soap opera’s sequence that would have made the viewer soft and vulnerable. Explains the mechanism of ideological persuasion (in this case a consumerist one) in soap operas,
“…the two motivational systems–appetitive/approach and aversive/avoid–were activated by a light comedy and a “tearjerker” movie, respectively. Overly arousing material is not necessary to have an impact on the processing of subsequent persuasive messages. This lends itself to several practical implications. For example, media buyers for social-marketing campaigns are advised to place fear appeals that generate high-tension energy through aversive activation–in programming where even slightly negative content may be expected. Such programs might include sad or emotion-laden movies, daytime dramas, daytime talk shows (e.g., Montel, Maury Povich), and some news programs.” (Potter, 72)
In light of such manipulative elements behind soap operas, it is not surprising those viewers for such programming had decreased steadily. In spite of the fact that most viewers of soap operas are women who are loyal to their program of choice, the decline seems inevitable. With a wider range of choices offered them by the Internet, people seeking entertainment programming finally have a say on “what they really want to see” as opposed to “what is imposed upon them”. This also explains the non-mainstream genre of digital content, which includes web-casts, program downloads, video on demand, etc. In other words, the equation has changed in favor of the consumer of entertainment content.
National Broadcasting Corporation is in the process of developing a path-breaking soap opera – Generations. This soap opera deals with such sensitive topics as inter-racial interaction. The program also portrays a realistic picture of the chronically and terminally ill members of their society and tries to give the viewer a peek into the psychology of the physically ailing. So, in essence, the soap is not based on light subjects like romance or comedy, but on a more meaningful and relevant subject. In the words of John Winther, the chief executive producer of the series All My Children, “Black people have a life and interact with whites. They have the same American dream as anyone else-a home and a family and a picket fence. Generations has to go in new directions. It has a broad appeal. We’re going after a new audience” (Marcus, 350)