Sex, Love, and Romance in the Mass Media: Analysis and Criticism of Unrealistic Portrayals and Their Influence

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Taylor & Francis, Jul 16, 2004 - Family & Relationships - 200 pages
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This accessible yet research-based text offers both foundational theories and practical applications of analysis and criticism of mass media portrayals of sex, love, and romance in a wide variety of mass media, from entertainment to advertising to news. The multidisciplinary methodological perspective comes out of a media literacy approach and embraces a variety of traditions along the quantitative-qualitative continuum. Focused on portrayals of male-female coupleship, the book is centered around the 12 major myths and stereotypes of Galician's Dr. FUN!'s Mass Media Love Quiz©, each of which has a corresponding Dr. Galician Prescription® that encapsulates healthy strategies--rarely found in the mass media--to counteract that myth or stereotype. Readers learn how to identify, illustrate, deconstruct, evaluate, and reframe the mass media's mythic and stereotypic portrayals of sex, love, and romance. They also learn how to use their own formal critical evaluations to clarify their own values and--as media consumers or mass communication creators--to share their insights with others. Thus, the learning objectives encompass all three major educational domains: cognitive, affective, and behavioral.

Part I of this book covers the five foundations:
*myths and stereotypes of love and coupleship;
*models of realistic and constructive love and coupleship;
*mass media storytelling approaches, techniques, and devices;
*research and theories of mass media effects; and
*strategies and skills of media literacy.

Part II is devoted to exploring the myths and stereotypes identified in the Quiz. Following several brief case studies and a summary of related research and commentary, each chapter focuses on analyses and criticisms of portrayals of sex, love, and romance in the content of news and advertising, as well as entertainment using Galician's Seven-Step Dis-illusioning Directions. Each chapter concludes with a "Dis-illusion Digest."

While critical of unrealistic portrayals and the damage they can cause unsuspecting media consumers, Galician--a media literacy advocate--is not anti-media. Rather, her goal is to empower consumers to use these portrayals with more awareness of their possible consequences, to resist adopting them as models for actual behavior, and to consciously reframe them into more realistic, productive scenarios. This unique text is an engaging classroom resource for media literacy, media and relationships, and media and society coursework.

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About the author (2004)

Dr. Mary-Lou Galician is a media literacy advocate who lectures and consults nationally and internationally. She is frequently interviewed and cited by the mass media and is Head of Media Analysis & Criticism in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communication at Arizona State University, where she created the popular course, Sex, Love, & Romance in the Mass Media. A former newspaper columnist, public television producer/director and nighttime talkshow host, and national marketing and advertising executive, she earned her doctorate in 1978 from Memphis State University (now University of Memphis), with a clinical residency in Human Values & Medical Ethics from University of Tennessee Center for the Health Sciences. She was the University Fellow in Broadcasting at Syracuse University (M.S., 1969) and a Conolly College Scholar at Long Island University (B.A., 1966), and she was named a national 2005-2006 AEJMC/ASJMC Journalism Leadership in Diversity (JLID) Fellow.
Dr. Galician is the author of "Sex, Love, and Romance in the Mass Media: Analysis and Criticism of Unrealistic Portrayals and Their Influence," which was honored as a Recommended Resource the Center for Media Literacy, and a forthcoming tradebook for the general public, "Dr. Galician’ s Prescriptions© for Getting Real About Romance: How Mass Media Myths About Love Can Hurt You." The centerpiece of both books is her widely used Dr. FUN’ s Mass Media Love Quiz© , which she has administered on national television. Her Dr. FUN’ s Stupid Cupid & Realistic Romance® Awards for massmedia portrayals of sex, love, and romance are announced each Valentine’ s Day as a media literacy service. She is also the editor of the "Handbook of Product Placement in the Mass Media: New Strategies in Marketing Theory, Practice, Trends, and Ethics," and she was guest editor of a special double issue of "American Behavioral Scientist" (September & October 2004) that she devoted to media literacy. Her research of television’ s good news and bad news (“ The American Dream & the Media Nightmare” ) has been published in "Journalism Quarterly," "The Journal of Mass Media Ethics," and "Southwestern Mass Communication Journal." She maintains two Web sites with media literacy resources: and
Debra L. Merskin is an Associate Professor and Communication Studies Sequence Coordinator in the School of Journalism & Communication at the University of Oregon. Her Ph.D. (1993) is from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication, Syracuse University, and her Master of Liberal Arts degree (1989) is from the University of South Florida, Tampa. Her research appears in journals such as "Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, The Howard Journal of Communications, Sex Roles," and "Journalism Educator," and in book chapters in "Growing Up Girls, Dressing in Feathe"rs, and "The Girl Wide Web." She is currently writing a book on race, gender and media (Blackwell). She teaches courses in communication and cultural studies, media and society, sex, love, romance, and media, and girl culture and the media.

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