“The media, particularly the news media, defends itself from the charge of encouraging violence by stating they are simply reflecting what exists. Real people are murdered every day. Those who create fictionalized views of violence(movies or TV dramas) rely on the argument that what they are producing should not be taken literally. Only the mentally inadequate would assume the violence was real or try to copy the behavior”(Greek).
Violence has been present since the beginning of the medium and in our history: political violence, ethnic violence, class violence. “You go back to the KKK, you have people committing incredible acts of violence on a grand scale. What is different is the reach of the media. You can now put anything on the screen; there’s no longer a sense of things being off limits,” Eric Foner, Columbia University’s DeWitt Clinton Professor of History said(qtd. in Cole). This is very true, broadcasting of the Vietnam War was America’s first glimpse at the brutal truth of war. It raised the acceptable threshold of violence on television; the infamous images prepared audiences for the fictional gore later depicted in such television shows as “NYPD Blue” and “ER”(Cole). What about society’s responsibility?
Violence in America has also been linked to economic changes. Economic hardships in the 1930s and the late 1970s resulted in the highest homicide level in this century. This relation persists today. Bob Dole and others believe it is simply the breakdown of family values, but it corresponds with deindustrialization. Rates of criminal violence have dropped significantly over the past 10 years, except among the young, the part of the population most …
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…terns we establish in our youth are the base for lifelong patterns evident in adulthood. And we must make the right decisions or at least make sure we make the right decisions for our children.
American Psychological Association. Violence on Television: What do Children Learn? What can Parents Do? Washington: Brochure, 1997.
Carlson, Margaret. “The Real Money Train.” Time. 11 Dec. 1995: 20-21.
Cole, Lewis. “Violence and the Meida: The wrong controversy?” 21stC. http://www.columbia.edu/cu/21stC/issue-1.2/Media.htm. (15 Nov. 1997).
Greek, Cecil. “Media and Reality.” Crime and Media. http://www.fsu.edu/~crimdo/lecture1.html. (15 Nov. 1997).
Murray, John P. “Impact of Televised Violence.” Kansas Journal of Law
Media Violence Does NOT Cause Violent Behavior
In fairy tales, children are pushed into ovens, have their hands chopped off, are forced to sleep in coal bins, and must contend with wolves who’ve eaten their grandmother. In myths, rape, incest, all manner of gruesome bloodshed, child abandonment, and total debauchery are standard fare. We see more of the same in Bible stories, accentuated with dire predictions of terrors and abominations in an end of the world apocalypse that is more horrifying than the human imagination can even grasp.
For the most part, these images of violence, promiscuity and human degradation are explained away by psychologists, mythologists, sociologists, philosophers, and non-fundamentalist theologians as symbolic manifestations of the human psyche. This is an assertion that could be supported, in no small part, by the manifestations of the human psyche we see in our own violent, erotic and chaotic dreams.
As a culture, again with religious fundamentalist and perhaps politically-correct feminist exceptions, we pretty much take these literary forms for granted in terms of their violent and seemingly antisocial content. Parents lovingly read their children to sleep with images of forced drudgery, painful mutilations, and vengeful retribution. Teachers and preachers alike use these quasi-historical and metaphorical tales of aggression and hostility to inspire and enlighten. Little thought, if any, is given to the possibility that we are putting dangerous ideas into the heads of our youth that will result in violent displays of antisocial mayhem. And, in fact, there seems to be little evidence that this true. For the most part, our children seem to have a healthy relationship to these stories in which the violence and sexuality does tend to help th…
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…are being fed. The center is collapsing because the psychic weight of their own perceived imperfections is dangerously out of balance to the authentic yearnings of the human heart.
Breaking the Waves. Written and directed by Lars Von Trier. 1996.
Hillman, James. Re-Visioning Psychology. New York: Harper