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The portrayal of cheating in the media Watch

    • Thread Starter

    I wasn't quite sure where to put this, so I've just plopped it over here.

    After watching a few movies and TV shows the past few weeks, I've noticed that they tend to gloss over cheating in relationships, making it seem totally acceptable behaviour.

    For instance, watching a few episodes of Sex and the City, Carrie cheats on Aiden with Big and although he leaves her they then get back together later on. Although they have troubles and break up again, in the second movie they meet and Carrie gets with Aiden (while married to Big). When Big finds out he just accepts it as Carrie loves him is sorry for cheating etc etc.

    I also watched Rumor Has it... recently, and Jen Ainiston's dad glosses over the fact that her mother cheated a week before their wedding, using the reasoning that it's okay because she chose him in the end, not the guy she cheated with. Later on Jen cheats on her fiance but he forgives her because she said she realised she loved him and wanted to marry him.

    These are just two (not fabulous) examples, but I have been seeing it a lot in a variety of shows recently. The characters forgive the cheating and continue their relationship even if the cheating occurs again and again. Its also seen in the gossip columns frequently, so-and-so cheated and were taken back.

    I'm wondering what effects this portrayal of cheating in the media has, do you think it will encourage people to forgive cheating more? Is cheating as commonplace as it seems in the media? Do you think we will start seeing cheating as more acceptable?

    Personally, I believe in second chances. When an ex has cheated on me, I forgave them (over time, and it was hard to build the trust back up) and gave them another chance but when it happened again, I left.

    TL;DR - I've been seeing cheating glossed over and seen as almost acceptable in a lot of media recently. What effects do you think this might have?

    It is the case that what we watch and listen to conditions us to accept negative behavior and perceive the world in a particular way.

    Like for one I noticed that from an early age we are conditioned to think that the good looking character is the cool guy or the hero, whilst the ugly character is almost always always a villainous one. When we come into contact with good looking person, smiling or what ever, our first instincts is to think they're a nice individual, when in reality they could be a douche. Vice versa may occur ugly people.

    Music as well. Girls that listen to Taylor Swift always blame the guy for the break down of the relationship, when in reality, if loads of guys can't stand her, she must have problems. I used to listen to a lot of ignorant Hip Hop, so for a time it seemed acceptable to see women as "*****es", glorify money and material things, be homophobic or hate the police. I've switched up now though, and listen to more "conscious" rap.

    My point is, there is mental poison everywhere, it's just your job to be conscious of it, and don't let it corrupt your mind.

    There are lots of interesting points raised here. I firstly want to point out that what occurs on tv or appears in papers or magazines is designed to bring in viewers/readers. Cheating is an evocative storyline; it makes for emotional drama, a sort of will they/won't they dichotomy. People love to read about the affairs and reckless philandering of celebrities as gossip. Such stories sell very well (regardless of their truthfulness).

    The second point I want to raise is something called the availability heuristic. We are always hearing about the indiscretions of famous people. This is because the number of celebrities from which to choose is large and the journalists only report stories of gossip and scandal. In other words, they tend not to bother reporting on the success on many marriages since no one cares. Add to that the fact that most relationships suffer their crises from time to time which the media blow way out of proportion, and you can see that these frequent moral panics are actually the artefact of 'journalistic' focus, rather than any epidemic of cheating.

    Following on, I think that now infidelity is being more widely talked about and acknowledged, there is less shame attached. People are less willing to blame themselves - they are understanding that the choice to cheat was that of the cheater.

    To my mind, attitudes have changed in some ways and not in others. Compare the philandering of two American presidents: JFK and Clinton. JFK was a notorious womaniser in his time; he was secretive, to be sure, but he had something of a reputation for it. The media sort of glossed over it. Clinton faced a media frenzy. What do you think would happen to Obama if he got lucky in the Oval Office? I sense that a great deal of this is actually due to the progress of women's rights, since we are only now acknowledging that the men are to blame, rather than defaulting on the wife.

    So I think the media actually comes down much harder on celebrities for their extra-marital indiscretions. It's all about moral panic and erosion of values. Paradoxically, although young people perhaps acknowledge better the unethical nature of cheating, they are more reckless about relationships and sex. I have seen on this board the contempt with which cheating is held. At the same time, it seems to be very thematic for people on here and for my peers.

    I sense a lot of hypocrisy amongst young people - they have very stiff ideals about right and wrong ... for everyone except themselves. I had a friend who was devastated when his girlfriend cheated on him, then proceeded to do the same thing himself. You get guys who would absolutely flip if their girlfriend cheated, only to go off on holiday and do it, as if it is somehow more acceptable done away from home.

    With young people having more sex and seeing it as less of an important thing, coupled with so much pressure on young people to 'have it all', relationships inevitably get thrown around as a cheap commodity, rather than something to be worked on. With so much of it being reported and fed into the storylines of tv programmes and books, stable, loving, healthy relationships are seen as boring - you are told to be out getting as much sex as possible (lad culture and all that bs). Peer pressure is often overwhelming, and coupled with alcohol and being away at uni from partners ... well temptation abounds, doesn't it?

    Finally, with people settling down later and having more relationships beforehand, they want to try a bit of everything. It's like trying to have your cake and to eat it too. They want a stable relationship for all the good stuff that it entails, but they want they hot piece of ass at the bar too. They know that if their relationship fails, it's not the end of the world. They have years ahead to find the one and just want to live for the moment.

    In short, I think that our attitudes towards relationships and sex are very confused and hypocritical. People always say intuitively that it's bad, but it doesn't stop them doing it. People don't want to be cheated on, but do it themselves. Perhaps that is simply the most effective defence mechanism against the threat of being cheated on yourself.

    What effect do I think it has? People are pretty good at knowing right from wrong, but useless at going through with it. Deep down I think most people wouldn't consciously cheat, but we all have our price and relationships aren't always easy - sometimes people are weak. If it becomes just another facet of relationships, accepted by all, then that's a really sad measure of the world we live in. But before you predict a cultural and ethical morass, remember that every instance of cheating involves (at least) one victim who recognises the pain it causes. Those people, at least, will understand the right thing to do.

    Tl;dr - People are hypocrites and reckless at a young age.
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