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Media Violence: Censorship Not Needed

Media Violence is a Menace, but Censorship Not Needed

According to John Davidson’s essay Menace to Society, “three-quarters of Americans surveyed [are] convinced that movies, television and music spur young people to violence.” While public opinion is strong, the results of research are divided on the effects of media violence on the youth in this country. Davidson wrote that most experts agree that some correlation between media violence and actual violent acts exists, yet the results are contradictory and researchers quibble about how the effects are to be measured (271). Moreover, Davidson is not convinced that the media is the sole problem of violence, or even a primary problem. He points out that other factors, such as “poverty, the easy accessibility of guns, domestic abuse, [and] social instability” may have a greater impact on a child becoming violent than the influence of the media (277). Even though other forces may be stronger, media violence does have some adverse effects on the members of society. If senseless violence on television and in movies had no effect, it would not be such a hotly debated topic. What type of effects and whom they affect are the most argued aspects of the discussion.

One of the recent violent acts committed by minors was the massacre at Columbine High School. Later it was revealed that the murderers had listened to Marilyn Manson, played violent computer games (such as Doom), and watched The Basketball Diaries in which the lead character slaughtered his classmates and teacher in a very similar manner to the way the Columbine boys later did (Torr 14). Though the Columbine murders were horrific acts and were likely inspired by violent forms of media, they are atypical of mo…

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…nce. New York: Rosen.1998.

Gibbs, Nancy. “What Kids (Really) Need.” Time 30 April. 2001: 48-49.

Males, Mike. “Why Demonize a Healthy Teen Culture.” Los Angeles Times 9 May. 1999. Rpt. in Violence in the Media as “Teenagers Are Not Becoming More Violent.” Ed. James D. Torr. San Diego: Greenhaven. 2001. 82-84.

Pollitt, Katha. “Natural Born Killers.” The Nation 26 July. 1999. Rpt. in Violence in the Media as “Violence in the Media Reflects the Violence in Society.” Ed. James D. Torr. San Diego: Greenhaven. 2001. 47-49.

Torr, James D. Introduction. Violence in the Media. Ed. James D. Torr. San Diego: Greenhaven. 2001. 13-15.

Valenti, Jack. “Violent Movies Do Not Make Children Violent.” Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. 4 May. 1999. Rpt. in Violence in the Media. Ed. James D. Torr. San Diego: Greenhaven. 2001. 72-74.

Criteria for Evaluating Media Violence

No Universal Criteria for Evaluating Media Violence

In a famous speech in 1995, Bob Dole, in an effort to gain more conservative support for his impending Republican Presidential Nomination, unleashed a damning indictment of the movie industry, seemingly unprovoked and somewhat puzzling. (Lacayo) Dole’s speech and especially the rebuttals to it raise many questions central to the debate over violence in film: is violence destructive to impressionable viewers, is violence critical to the success of the industry, does violence have aesthetic value, who decides what is violent, and if something is found to be violent, should it be banned? By going beyond Dole’s speech to carefully examine these questions, it is found that regardless of its effects on younger viewers, violence in film should be unhindered due to its benefit to it’s industry, it’s entertainment value, and the fact that the definitions of the term cannot be agreed on by the parties involved.

In 1997, the top ten grossing films (as of the end of the year), all contained the basic element of violence: someone physically striking someone else. These 10 films alone accounted for $1,672,200,000 domestically, which, in combination with the rest of the monetary intake of the other 130 major studio releases, represent a huge portion of the Gross National Product. By the end of 1997, the same ten films amassed $1,444,000,000 in foreign markets, making the products of the American film industry account for a large portion of money made through exportation. Those of these films released on video by the end of 1997 accounted for another $640,200,000 in the video market. (Kilday) So the current U.S. economy is partially dependent on the money made through the f…

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…ll to Arms, minus the war. Film is a form of expression, one wildly popular and in today’s culture and very important to the U.S. economy, that cannot be hindered for the simple fact that a universal criteria for evaluating violence in it cannot be created.

Works Cited

Kilday, Gregg. “For Richer or Poorer.” Entertainment Weekly 30 January 1998: 34-37.

Lacayo, Richard. “Violent Reaction.” Time 12 June 1995: 24-30.

Lion King, The. Dir. Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff. Perf. Mathew Broderick and Nathan Lane. Walt Disney Productions.

Natural Born Killers. Dir. Oliver Stone. Perf. Woody Harrelson and Juliet Lewis. Warner Bros., 1994.

Pulp Fiction. Dir. Quentin Tarantino. Perf. John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson. Miramax, 1994.

True Lies. Dir. James Cameron. Perf. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis. Twentieth Century Fox, 1994.

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