Cultivation theory heavily impacts society by influencing the “normal” view of gender roles, body image, and normality.
Cultivation theory is a theory that states that the media is essentially responsible for the way in which people view the world. This theory attributes extreme social power to the media and holds that people are taught over time to respond to situations based on what they think is the appropriate way. The Cultivation theory believes that the media teaches normality through television, video, music, etc. It says that life as we live it is a reflection of media ideas that have been portrayed to us since childhood.
Cultivation theory can be easily applied to either Tough Guise or Killing Us Softly since it is the basis for the opinions of both. Throughout human history, from the genesis of our written history, the archetypal hero has existed. He, as “Tough Guise“ establishes, embodies characteristics like “tough,” “strong,” and “powerful.” In recent years we may add “cool,” or “cunning” to the growing list of unattainable favorable attributes necessary in a true man. From Odysseus to John Wayne to Rambo to James Bond, the protagonist, according to the cultivation theory, tells men what is expected of them. According to the theory, men will watch media and perceive that it is “normal” for them to act like the men portrayed in the media. Equally for women, advertisements show what is “normal,” which equates to how women act, dress, and try to look. According t the University of Washington, a study found that the amount of time an adolescent watches soap operas, movies, and music videos is directly correlative with negative body image and wish to be thinner. If media reinforces what is “normal” in society, and people see approximately 2500 advertisements a day, then that is a lot of reinforcement.
The media objectifies women which, according to cultivation theory, affects how society views and treats women.
Ellen DeGeneres discusses media's impact on body image in society.