The Instigator
Pro (for)
1 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

Television has a malign influence on society

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/25/2011 Category: Society
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,503 times Debate No: 18464
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
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I would like to issue an open challenge on a debate regarding the matter of influence of TV on society.

In this debate I am going to take Pro side, and going to show evidences that TV has negative influence on society.


Television, n., any aspect of the broadcasting related to the content, etc., of television programmes

Malign, adj., likely to become worse, harmful in the nature of influence

To influence, v., to affect the nature, development, or condition of; modify; to have an effect upon.

society, n., the totality of social relationships among humans

Anything else what needs to be clarified you can mention in comments, or in first round.

This round is for definitions, acceptance and basic point. Arguments begin in R2.


Programming, n. Scripted or non-scripted television shows.
Art, n. A field in which unique skills are applied to produce an object of quality. Not limited to fine arts.
Every other word in this argument is used by its most common and unambiguous definition.

Individual choice

The statement "Television has a malign influence on society" is a faulty generalization. The fact is that there is programming (albeit obscure and minimal) that is designed to encourage critical thought, and plainly offers knowledge without an agenda. To say that ALL television has a malign influence is a falsehood. Secondly, television programming responds fluidly to market conditions. Media companies provide products (programming) that is expected and demanded by their customers. If there is a problem, it does not lie with the product of television programming itself, but with what people have patronized. Consumers watch television and the products advertised at will; therefore, modern television programming is a product of individual choice. A critique on television programming is a critique on the culture that created it; as the former is a product of the latter. The zeitgeist is not a product of television, but television is a product of the zeitgeist.

Artistic expression

How can one sensibly argue to limit the depth and breadth of today's television programming without also severely compromising our freedom of artistic expression? Arguably, television programming is a form of artistic expression, "malign" or not -it makes no difference. Expression is an end in and of itself. If you find the banning of certain types of books repulsive, then this too should have a similar effect.

En garde!
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you carlosrmz2920, for accepting this debate. However d'Artagnan, I underlined that R1 is without arguments on what you obviously did not pay attention. I am going to tolerate this in order to keep focus on topic subject.

Since my opponent wishes to use the freedom of choice and artistic expression as his method of persuading , I will use the same to defend a pro-choice stance.


My opponent said that “modern television programming is a product of individual choice.”. The freedom of choice is one of the most fundamental rights which has been given to society by law and religion. But, there is no freedom of choice in TV industry, what you have confirmed with your sentence “Media companies provide products (programming) that is expected and demanded by their customers.”. Real choice should function by this algorithm:

Reality -> Reality objective capture and broadcasted -> Audience receiving objective picture of reality

Instead of this, idealistic order, it is like this:

Reality -> Reality adjusted by public opinion and demand of customers-> Audience receiving what they want to believe in

There is a variety of TV programs and it’s undeniable, but what is common to all of them is their approach to audience with subjectivity which is determined by influence of politics and government on broadcasting network. I won’t analyze what is true, but don’t you think Iraq is tired of process of transition into democratic country which is supervised by American forces? That transition is democratically wrapped into idyllic picture and framed with a death of dozens of American soldiers which fell for their country, but what is left behind that picture are thousands of Iraq causalities over the months. Have the number of 92,003 civilian deaths ever been mentioned on some of American national televisions? [source:] You still think you have freedom of choice and what to believe in?

I’m going to bring more evidences regarding the propaganda, although first part of your retort was contradictory by itself.


My opponent continues with statement :” television programming is a form of artistic expression”.

Very little percent of nowadays media is actually art by it’s definition as it’s the product or process of deliberately arranging items of in a way that influences and affects one or more of the senses, emotions, and intellect. Understanding of art is different than it used to be half a century before. Is porn considered as art? However, porn industry is worth 1.8 billion dollars only in USA [source:]. This is obvious example how television has contributed to decrease of moral guidelines. Speaking of moral, I mustn’t forget to mention violence and it’s affection on children. Because television violence is accompanied by vivid production features, preschoolers are predisposed to seek out and pay attention to violence—particularly cartoon violence. It is not the violence itself that makes the cartoons attractive to preschoolers, but the accompanying vivid production features. With this preference for cartoons, preschoolers are being exposed to a large number of violent acts in their viewing day. Moreover, they are unlikely to be able to put the violence in context, since they are likely to miss any subtlety conveyed mitigating information concerning motivation and consequences. Preschoolers behave more aggressively than usual in their play after watching any high-action exciting television content, but especially after watching violent television. [source:]

As my opponents arguments were negated, I’ll continue with one more evidence:


Television, including video tape recording, is one of the most effective media for persuasion. It offers many advantages for propaganda operations, and its wide application in other fields contributes to its acceptance and use. It is appropriate for use in limited, general, and cold war and is particularly effective in FID (Foreign Internal Defense) and consolidation operations.

If you look at the new Hollywood blockbuster '300' which is about a Persian invasion fended off by 300 Spartan warriors you see the 'right-wing' US bias in it. There are 300 perfectly sculpted, steroid filled bodies in their under ware defending somewhere against a hoard of dirty looking Persians in some very dodgy looking clothes. This is a depiction of the West's superiority over Iran (basically Persia). I started with an example, and I could continue endlessly with it. Russians were the villains in two big summer films - "Iron Man 2" and "Salt" - and Jack Bauer battled Russians during the last season of "24." Years ago, when Russians popped up as bad guys in the Rocky and James Bond films, before the Soviet Union went down, it was a cultural reflection of a geopolitical reality. So what does this latest trend represent?

"It's what the Russian foreign minister termed in a speech 'a cold peace,' " said Robert Kaiser, chair of the department of geography at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "We're not at cold war with each other any more. But we're certainly not warming up." [source:]

One of the closest terms related to propaganda is crowd manipulation. Crowd manipulation is the intentional use of techniques based on the principles of crowd psychology to engage, control, or influence the desires of a crowd in order to direct its behavior toward a specific action. This practice is common to politics and business and can facilitate the approval or disapproval or indifference to a person, policy, or product. The ethical use of crowd manipulation is debatable and depends on such factors as the intention of and the means used by the manipulator, as well as the ends achieved. [source:] Is It necessary to mention brainwashing?

For these reasons, I urge a Pro vote.



Well, thank you very much digitalphantom, I am humbled by your great intellect. I will give it my best to write as articulate and as well read as you.


With regards to your comments about freedom of choice, The [sic] freedom of choice is one of the most fundamental rights which has been given to society by law and religion. Freedom of choice, is not granted by law, nor by religion. Freedom of choice, as in free will, is innate to mankind. Free will is a direct result of having a rational mind, and the faculties of reason, a quality that is unique only to man. Law does not empower the mind to have the potential of free will, thus it does not originate in law (assuming that you are referring to the laws of men) or mysticism.

But I digress.

The reality of is that the preference of an individual on subject matter in the media is completely ignored in your argument. As I had argued before, the consumer has a choice of what he or she wants to watch. If they want to indulge in 1 hour of subjective reality (drama), why shouldn’t they?

If you want to argue specifically of any Sophist programming, such as any mainstream news network, then your argument could be relevant. When the consumer is tuning in specifically to watch objective reality (news) and instead get subjective (propaganda), then yes, the quality of the programming becomes questionable. But that is not what we are arguing. We are arguing why television in general is NOT malign to the interest of mankind. The debate that you are trying to have, seems to be focused specifically on subjective reality in the media being pushed as objective.

With regards to your argument against artistic expression, Very little percent of nowadays media is actually art by its definition. By the commonly agreed upon definition of ART, media for all intends and purposes is artfully composed. It takes true skill and insight to direct a television show, a commercial, or a pornographic movie. To readily dismiss these as not being artful, means completely ignoring the premise of the word’s definition.

I can understand if the media does not suit your belief of aesthetics, but readers, please do not confuse the two terms. Aesthetics and Art are two different concepts.

Regarding your statement on cartoon violence, Because television violence is accompanied by vivid production features, preschoolers are predisposed to seek out and pay attention to violence—particularly cartoon violence. I agree with you, violence in cartoon animations are concerning. As a parent, I will make sure that my child watches approved programming only. Furthermore, I will exercise my right of free will to circumvent circumstances that my child is too young to comprehend. Does this seem like an unreasonable task for an average parent?

Propaganda and nationalism are products of government not of the private media industry! You can make the argument of marketing being a form of propaganda, in that case I would agree with you, but considering the sense in which you used the word, that is not the case.

If your goal is for people to not be fooled by the mind games being played in the media, then I would suggest an alternative; a simple dose of logic, grammar and rhetoric in every man, woman and child’s education will do it. These tools act like an antivirus against the psychological power of the establishment.

Otherwise, I say let freedom reign on the airwaves! Give me the choice that is fittingly mine!

Debate Round No. 2


Freedom of choice, is not granted by law, nor by religion. Freedom of choice, as in free will, is innate to mankind.

Ok if you are already correcting me, I would be glad if you could show source or scientific proof of your conclusion. Meanwhile, it would be useful to check some things first:

Freedom of choice- Right to exercise one's freedoms in any manner one may choose except where such act may obstruct or prevent others from exercising their freedoms, put oneself or others in danger, or exceeds a statutory limit.

Article 18.

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

My opponent asked what if they wanted to indulge in 1 hour of subjective reality (drama), why shouldn’t they?

Well, although it’s rhetorical question, I’m still willing to do my best to answer. I admit it is matter of freedom of choice, as no one can forbid them to watch drama [not related to North Korea, etc.], but what they do not have influence on is content of broadcasted program which is determined by public demand, as you said in previous round. Television is mostly directed to films and shows that have commercial purposes but little cultural value: Television has become a temple of mass production, shallow values and stereotypes that have a great influence on modern society. This negative effect spreads with the growing popularity of TV, especially among young people and children. It defiantly changes our society for the worse, trivializing culture and making us all conform to a bland, "Hollywood" model of entertainment in which regional traditions and diversity are lost.

As I’ve already mentioned, I find it necessary to pay more attention to one of the terms from last paragraph.


Stereotypes are generalizations about a group of people whereby we attribute a defined set of characteristics to this group. People from stereotyped groups can find this very disturbing as they experience an apprehension (stereotype threat) of being treated unfairly. For much of its history, the movie industry portrayed African-Americans as being unintelligent, lazy, or violence-prone. As a result of viewing these stereotyped pictures of African-Americans, for example, prejudice against African-Americans has been encouraged. In the same way, physically attractive women have been and continue to be portrayed as unintelligent or unintellectual and sexually promiscuous. When we judge people and groups based on our prejudices and stereotypes and treat them differently, we are engaging in discrimination. This discrimination can take many forms. We may create subtle or overt pressures which will discourage persons of certain minority groups from living in a neighborhood.

Remember bad Russian guys from last round?

I also find this statement a simple dose of logic, grammar and rhetoric in every man, woman and child’s education will do it. “ quite interesting.

Don’t you think it is maybe hard to develop certain level of logic if we are since we were born, constantly exposed to negative influence of television and its content. There is too many factors included which doesn’t allow statement above to be true just as that. It’s too idealistic. A lot of people should take a bigger dose of logic, grammar and rhetoric.

As my opponent haven’t included any new arguments, and also haven’t successfully negated mine, I’m going to say one or two words more, in totally different direction.

Relating television use to free-time activities

Nowadays many people spend the biggest part of their free time watching television. According to the statistics, the average American child watches 26 hours a television per week. That’s how TV programs reduce the quality of real life by narrowing people’s outlook, limiting the variety of free time activities, affecting family relations by reducing conversation, and even having an impact on health by discouraging exercise.

“Children spend more time watching television than any other single free time activity, and Vandewater and her colleagues want to understand how this affects childhood health and behavior. They surveyed time use in 2,900 children ages 12 and under around the United States and analyzed all of the children’s activities over two 24-hour periods, one randomly chosen weekday and one weekend day. A child’s primary caregiver was generally responsible for entering data into time-use diaries. The researchers compared television use with time spent on homework, reading, creative play (such as arts and crafts), active play (such as soccer) and interaction with parents and siblings. Increased time watching television was associated with decreased time interacting with parents and siblings and playing creatively. The researchers also found that older children who spent more time watching television spent less time on homework.”


With all that being said, it shouldn't be difficult to vote on any of these arguments. I've tried to make these points as clear as possible. I again thank carlosrmz2920 for the round and urge judges to vote con.



carlosrmz2920 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by digitalphantom 6 years ago
"vote pro" was intention to say in last paragraph but I don't have any doubts that it's clear by itself.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Ragnar 4 years ago
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Total points awarded:10 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit.