THE AGENDA SETTING THEORY AND BEYONCE’S “LEMONADE 1
The Agenda Setting Theory and Beyonce’s “Lemonade”
The Agenda Setting Theory and Beyonce’s “Lemonade”
It is common knowledge that the media plays a very important role indirecting public attention towards some specific issues affecting thesociety. Through the media, people acquire information regarding thematters that are significant to the nation. However, the media caninfluence the degree at which the public will accord significance toevery particular matter. The matters that appear more importantacquire a wide coverage and aired more frequently while thoseperceived less significant may not acquire any frequent coverage. Forexample, the topic that appears on the front page of the newspaperinfluence the public to believe that it is the most important hencepeople have to spend more time thinking about it. Likewise, for atelevision, the opening remarks during news broadcasting aims atinfluencing the viewer towards a certain issue that is moreimportant. The length of time, timing, frequency as well as otherfeatures serves to influence public attention on certain issues. Theidea is that the media has the power of setting the public agendaduring the specific period. The report concerns the relationshipbetween the recently video produced by Beyonce “Lemonade” and theAgenda Setting Theory. This will come through a review of the theoryfollowed by a description of the “Lemonade” video to reveal therelevance of the theory in describing the issues addressed in thevideo. In addition, this will drive to the establishment of theapplicability of the theory to artifact through an examination of thekey elements of the theory. The idea is to reveal the relevance ofthe theory in communication of artifact owing to the recent changesand innovations.
The Agenda Setting Theory
The Agenda Setting Theory establishes the relationship or theinfluence of the media in shaping the way people behave or act. Thetheory relies on the assumption that the media and the press shapeand filter the reality rather than reflecting about it. It also baseon the notion that when the media or press concentrate on few objectsor issues then it influences the masses to perceive those objects orissues as most significant. The most precarious aspect of thesignificance of the theory in mass communication is the period. TheSetting effect, according to Iyengar and Kinder (2010) happens in acognitive progression called accessibility, implying that an issuebecomes more accessible in the memories of the public depending onthe frequency and prominence that the press or media covers it. Threefundamental types of Agenda Setting exist: Policy, public and media.The public Agenda Setting concentrates mostly on the audience planwhile the media agenda setting concentrates on the effect of themedia in influencing the audience. Lastly, Policy Agenda Setting thatreceives little consideration, concerns the way both the public aswell as the media influence the decisions made by the government(Walgrave & Van Aelst, 2006). However, the media agenda setting,owing its significance in the contemporary society has received morecriticism. Firstly, there is the argument that the theory covers onlysocial challenges such as violence and blame on the media rather thanthe individual responsible for the violence. The other criticism isthat of paranoia and conservative ideology.
When examining the Agenda Setting Theory and the influence of themedia on the audience, it is significant to factor the predispositionof the audience to various beliefs. Regarding the influence on theaudience, the issues and events covered by the media combine with thealready existing sensitivities of the audience to produce the change.This, according to Walgrave and Van Aelst (2006), means thatindividuals that are already sensitive concerning the issue willreceive greater influence when exposed to the issue but the effect onsome other groups may be minimal. In addition, the effect of exposuredepends on whether the matter is disruptive or non-disruptive. Theissue is disruptive if it affects every person while it isnon-disruptive if it is far from the audience. The disruptivenessdepends on the personal attributes meaning that the influence of themedia will only be on the individuals affected by the issue directly.
Inmost cases, sociologists that examine the influence of the media insetting the public agenda focus on public matters. It occurs throughan examination of the news agenda of the particular enterprise oversome specific period and the influence in the public based on thefrequency of airing. During that particular time, some issues receivemore emphasis while others may receive little emphasis or justmentioned once. However, the role of the media in setting the agenda,as mentioned by Scheufele and Tewksbury (2007)does not just end in the earlier stages of directing the publictowards a specific topic but also attempt to shape the next phase inthe process of communication or the interpretation and understandingof the various elements of the issue. The potential for a wideinfluence of the media in setting the agenda becomes clear onconsidering the agenda in nonfigurative terms. In this case, theobjects are the items that provide a definition to the agenda (Ragas& Roberts, 2009).Therefore, the public issues become the objects despite the fact thatthey can also be other matters such as a politician vying for aparticular position. In this case, mentioning the name of thepolitician frequently aims at influencing the public to regard thepolitician as more important over other politicians. The media canextend and shape the way people judge or perceive the particularcandidate.
Beyonce’s “Lemonade” Video
Lemonade is a visual album that traces the story of reconciliationand infidelity where it starts with her questioning about therelationship. Protest was her first reaction following the conclusiveevidence of unfaithfulness. She intones, “They don`t love you likeI love you," where anger followed. However, after cutting loosefrom a partner that was not trustworthy, the story shifted towardsreunion and cease-fire. The moment closes with numerous shots ofjoyful couples and the assertion that they will have good future. Shesays, "So we`re gonna heal. We`re gonna start again." Inher journey within her relationship, she narrates about her exposureto black womankind. A snatch dragged from a speech by the Malcon Xdeclaration, "The most disrespected person in America is theblack woman. The most unprotected person in America is the blackwoman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman."In the video, men are almost not present both emotionally andphysically since huge clusters of women occupy their position byappearing frequently. The idea presents a unified front of sisterhoodand solidarity.
In describing the visuals, Lemonade phrases through several settingswith most being determinedly Southern. They include muggy porches, aplantation house, reference to New Orleans, and a short part whereshe rides horse as well as the swampy scenes. The other recurringmotifs are flames in which in the early time the singer stared downas all things behind explore and later she posed majestically behinda hedge of flames. Another thing appearing frequently is tunnelimagery in which Beyonce croons a single song in the end as thecamera creped slowly to create tension as in the case of a horrorvideo.
Regarding the guests, Beyonce dragged several black women of highpower to assist her on the “Lemonade” that included SerenaWilliam, the world tennis star, and young female actors such asAmandla Stenberg, Zendaya, and Quvenzhane Wallis. In addition, themother of Trayvon Martin, Fulton Sybrina and McSpadden Lasley, motherof Michael Brown also appeared. Furthermore, towards the end of thestory in which the focus was on cease-fire and happiness in thefuture, Blue Ivy and Jay Z appeared. It is also possible to hear someof the guests without seeing them. For example, during one melody,the Weekend gives a choral while James Blake provides another.Beyoncé relied on bulbous mockups of Hayes Isaac’s “Walk on Bay”and Malcolm X speech. Despite the appearance of Lamar Kendrick in thevideo, he did not rap as usual.
Relevance of Agenda Setting Theory to “Lemonade”
The fact that Agenda Setting Theory is relevant to the video is notquestionable owing to the fact that we are in the era wheretechnological advancement in information and communication technologyhas made the media to be the most influential tool to the behaviorand decisions made by the society. The topic, the devices and thetechniques employed by Beyoncé in passing her message to the massesmake the Agenda Setting Theory to be the most suitable tool indescribing the video. Firstly, the main theme, which isunfaithfulness, is a common issue that revolves in the society hencetouches every individual, every community and every segment of thesociety. This fulfills the condition that media influence will behigh when the issue touches the particular group (Walgrave & VanAelst, 2006). In this case, unfaithfulness is part of the societysince every adult has some experiences regarding her relationshipwith members of the opposite sex. Additionally, reconciliation andhappiness that the video closes with at the end attracts the interestand attention of every viewer since it is the desire and interest ofevery one to find her relationship with her partner as a tool forhappiness. Therefore, the main subject addressed by the video appliesuniversally to all individuals hence, airing the video willdefinitely influence the public towards a similar approach. In thiscase, the video is setting the reality concerning the way loverelationships should develop and continue rather than just merely,reflecting about love.
Beyoncé uses prominent figures such as Serena William and severalothers to explain her subject. Owing to the fact that these areindividuals mostly covered by the media, no doubt that this will makethe video more influential to the viewers. To add on that, theindividuals selected are from different fields such as sports andmusic meaning that this will help in attracting a wide range ofpeople because of the high diversity. In this way, no doubt thatBeyoncé was using these individuals knowing that that will help inattracting the attention of the audience. The use of these prominentfigures acts in a manner of popularizing the film in the individualsalready loyal and bonded to them hence revealing the idea thatfrequency of appearance in the media influences the audience toregard the issue as important (Ragas & Roberts, 2009). Perhaps,this also makes “Lemonade” very influential to the viewersworldwide.
Furthermore, Beyoncé applies techniques that are most common amongactors and filmmakers in the contemporary society. Songs are the mostfavorable tools for entertainment amongst the youth and flames aswell as suspense are common in horror movies. While these haveacquired significance because of frequent coverage in the media, theuse by Beyoncé directly makes her video popular and influential. Theidea, as put by Scheufele and Tewksbury (2007) is that the videoacquires significance because of the significance of songs amongstthe youth and will acquire attention because of the attentionaccorded to horror movies. This reveals the significance of the mediain shaping the way people behave or act towards the issue. Therefore, the video became common and important right from the firstday because it featured people regarded important and frequentlycovered by the media.
Finally, the theme regarding women empowerment and solidarity thatBeyoncé uncovered has acquired wide media coverage because of theongoing campaign for the removal of all forms of discrimination inthe society. Perhaps this directly reflects to the significance of“Lemonade” in that the video is addressing an issue that theaudience feels that it is significant (Coleman & McCombs, 2007).Beyoncé incorporated the issue in her video knowing that it willdraw the attention of media users because the issue matches theongoing war against discrimination that the audience considersimportant. In this way, the Agenda Setting theory becomes mostrelevant to the video.
AgendaSetting Theory and Artifact
The Agenda Setting Theory explains the strong influence of the mediain shaping the behavior or decisions made by the society. Forexample, in the case where various products or services exist in themarket, the product that most often covered by the media acquires thehighest significance. This explains why businesses invest heavily inadvertisement to ensure that consumer hear about the product morefrequently compared with the products supplied by other players inthe market. The information contained in the adverts aims atinforming the audience that the product is the most suitable inmeeting their needs and desires. This, as hinted by Ragas &Roberts (2009) is in line with the fact that significance will dependon how much the people can relate the issue covered by the media intheir lives. The message that often targets a specific segment of theconsumers aims at persuading them to consider the product as intendedfor them. Similarly, Beyoncé message is precise, targets the variousgroups of the audience, and incorporates the most appropriatefeatures to help them understand the message as directly intended forthem. In this case, the media is playing its key role of directingthe audience to behave in a certain desirable way. For the productsor services, in the market, the aim is to use the media to influencethe buying pattern by building the impression that the product ofthat particular organization is the only one suitable in satisfyingthe needs. Likewise, the media influences the audience to develop thefeeling that a particular theme is the most striking in the currentenvironment.
The idea is that the audience will only fill their memory with whatthey mostly hear or see hence, it is possible to influence theirthoughts and consumption patterns by making the idea or productappears in the media several times (Davie & Maher, 2006). Perhapsthis is what leads to decisive advertisements and the use ofprominent figures by Beyoncé and advertisement enterprises. Theresult is absorption of the behaviors conveyed and increases in thedemand of the products. Lemonade, in this case is like a form ofadvertisement with the theme of unfaithfulness and reconciliationbeing the subject. The use of prominent figure helps in increasingthe frequency of view as well as the significance of the issues tothe audience. The idea is that the audience will consider the topicsaddressed as the most important and thereby, imitating similar trendsin their lives. In this case, we expect that dead relationshipsbetween the members of the society will rise up again and a feelingof happiness will cover the society.
The Effect on the Communication Artifact
The case described above shows the idea that the relevance of theAgenda Setting Theory in the contemporary society continues todecline owing to the advancement in technology that give rise to theemergence of personal media. Technology, according to Coleman andMcCombs, (2007) allows an individual to report or express herfeelings and desires as well as what she understands regarding aparticular thing. Therefore, the possibility of obtaining the truthis high hence difficult to influence behavior through the mass mediabecause of the ease of information sharing. The individual media isacquiring more significance than the mass media hence limiting thestrength of the theory. In this regard, consumers can acquire thetruth concerning the product or the existence of certain similarproducts in the market. The audience can also receive reactions andcriticism of a particular idea thereby limiting the power of themedia in shaping their behaviors. The internet unites all peoplearound the world that also raises the possibility of revealing thetruth, which also makes the Agenda Setting Theory less significant.
Nevertheless, the people are currently, more interlinked than in thepast times hence reaching a wide group is possible within a veryshort time. This is causing a high customization of media productsthat continues to isolate the consumer (Gane & Beer, 2008). Thereis high stress on the idea of thinking or behaving uniquely ratherthan considering the features that fit a specific group of thesociety despite the continued presence of group identity. The idea isto move in a manner that will help in achieving the uniquenessrequired in making one popular. This clearly shows that the communityis becoming more individual thus fragmenting the essential featuresof the audience that makes the Agenda Setting Theory relevant. Theuse of multiple devices during communication is a manifestation ofthis phenomenon since the individual passing the message wants tofulfill the diverse needs of the society. Beyoncé use of varioustechniques such as narrations, songs and the use of prominent figuresreveal her desire to meet the diversified needs of the society ratherthan over-reliance on frequency at which the audience will air hervideo. This also explains why most firms encourage diversity incommunicating the significance of their products or services toconsumers. The new media, as put by McCombs (2005) simply meansdifferent forms of communication to different people with a goodexample being the Facebook the serves as a new channel ofcommunication as well as a brand. This is an example of fragmentationthat continues to wipe out the significance of the Agenda SettingTheory when the interpretation of the message can occur differently.
The Agenda Setting Theory suggests that the media is a very powerfultool in influencing the behavior of the society. In this regard,people will consider what features in the media more frequently to bethe most important. However, apart from influencing the public toaccord significance to a particular issue of interest it extent intoshaping the people understanding about the issue. Therefore, the ideais that the media shapes the reality rather than just reporting aboutit. Beyoncé uses various techniques and prominent figures to expressthe theme of unfaithfulness and reconciliation. She uses individualswith a wide media coverage that reveals her recognition of the powerof the media in shaping behavior that is in line with the AgendaSetting Theory. When businesses conduct massive advertisements, theywant the consumers to feel that the products or services they supplyare most important over those supplied by the rivals. The idea makesthe products more common leading to an increase in the demand.Therefore, this is an application of the Agenda Setting Theory sincethe media is a perfect tool for manipulating the consumptionpatterns. This is equal to the use of the media by Beyoncé toinfluence a specific behavior or idea, reconciliation. However, theadvancement in technology led to the emergence of personal mediawhere finding the truth is easier and people are fragmentingthemselves more, which continues to undermine the relevance of thetheory in the contemporary society. Additionally, individuals areseeking for unique features and characters that will help them tostrengthen their personal identities that also limit theeffectiveness of the theory. This suggests why organizations usemultiple devices and methods in communicating their messages like thecase of Beyoncé in Lemonade to help in meeting the high diversitypresent.
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