Drive-by shootings and school massacres are just two of the many violent past-times of today’s youth. Is television a contributor to this insidious erosion of children’s respect for life? Much research that has been done in an attempt to answer this question. The majority of the findings are very similar in content, and the results are grim. Television violence has been shown to cause four major changes in children’s behavior: “Increasing aggressiveness and anti-social behavior, increasing their fear of becoming victims, making them less sensitive to violence and to victims of violence, and increasing their appetite for more violence in entertainment and in real life.” (AAP Committee) Television is causing a change in America’s children, and it is not a change for the better.
If watching television is increasing children’s aggressive behavior, then is it also causing a higher crime rate? Once again, the answer is a resounding yes. “Longitudinal studies tracking viewing habits and behavior patterns of a single individual found that 8-year-old boys who viewed the most violent programs while growing up were the most likely to engage in aggressive and delinquent behavior by age 18 and serious criminal behavior by age 30.” (Booth, Mullins, Scott, and Woolston) Not only do our children exhibit an immediate reaction to violence in the media but also a long term effect of a higher propensity toward committing crimes. Another population study stated that the homicide rate doubled within ten to fifteen years after the introduction of television into several different locations where television was introduced at different times. (Facts About Media Violence) We are all affect…
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…can child reaches the age of 16, he or she will have witnessed 200,000 acts of violence on television, including 33,000 murders. (Juvenile Crime and TV) Apparently we accept what we see over and over again as normal behavior. We are teaching our children that violence is acceptable by inviting it into our homes everyday. They, in turn, are becoming more violent from the playgrounds all the way to the prisons.
Booth, Vicki, Mullins, Heather, Scott, Erika, and Woolston, Jonathon. “Juvenile Crime and TV.” Online. http://staff.gc.maricopa.edu/mdinchak/eng101/juvenile.htm
“Facts About Media Violence.” Online. http://www.ama-assn.org/ad-com/releases/1996/mvfacts.htm
AAP Committee on Pediatrics. “Some Things You Should Know About Media Violence and Media Literacy.” Online. http://www.aap.org/advocacy/ChildHealthMonth/media.htm
Television and Media Violence Essay – TV and MTV Media Argumentative Persuasive Essays
MTV: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly It would be hard for one to dispute the fact that MTV has influenced every pop culture trend since its birth in 1981. One could even say that MTV is pop culture. No other media network holds in the palm of its hand the power to control popular cultural evolution the way MTV does. What other media network has influenced and helped shape public opinion, filmmaking, newsgathering techniques, presidential politics, and world politics like MTV has? In addition to that, MTV can take credit for reconstructing the music industry (Rushkoff 126). One would be hard pressed to find a person who does not enjoy some type of music. Thus, “Music” television was built on a foundation that was virtually united by the whole world, and its popularity was inevitable. MTV chose popular music as its beating heart, instead of classical music or jazz. Young people around the country could now see their favorite music icons 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As a result, the young people of America were given a national/international platform to share their common voice, a voice that to this day wants to be heard. Since MTV has such a large hand in shaping the young minds of today, it is important that both parents and children are aware of the impact MTV has in their daily lives. In assessing the impact and effect of popular cultural forms like MTV, it is important to acknowledge the extent to which, rather than having them imposed upon us, we may instead appropriate or assimilate parts, whilst choosing to reject or ignore the rest. This, of course, has the consumer or viewer acting (or perhaps more accurately interacting) as opposed to simply passively receiving (Philo par 16).Even though critics of MTV stand strongly against the passive consumer, the fact remains that MTV has done wonderful things for America’s youth. Yet, where there is a “Good”, there is also a “Bad” and an “Ugly”. One of the many good things MTV has done is serve as the voice of youth in today’s society. Demographic groups such as young African Americans had been socially silenced prior to MTV’s ability to market urban music. Thus, MTV’s ability to bring the unheard minority’s voice to an international level has helped to break down some of the cultural barriers that have stood in humanity’s way for centuries. Rappers such as Ice T and Public (E)enemy raised eyebrows around the world with their lyrics protesting Government hippocracies and other social issues. In turn, these artists contributions help make rap/urban music an important and influential cultural movement, and also emerged the young African American voice into political issues. Such an accomplishment deserves worldly praise and appreciation (Rushkoff 161-165). On the same level, MTV has contributed to the involvement of young people in modern social issues. While segments such as MTV News, keep young viewers involved with world issues such as the Environment, safe sex, racial tolerance, and the AIDS virus, MTV has also had a hand in presidential politics. In the Presidential election year of 1992, MTV launched a series of public service announcements under the campaign heading of “Rock the Vote”. Rock stars backed the phrase “Choose or Loose”, in multiple on-air segments, giving issue awareness a marketable value. While presidential incumbent George Bush refused to appear on the “teenybopper” network, Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton held an open forum with an MTV audience. Considering Bush was a favorite among young adults in the 88′ election, many people believe Bush’s dismissal of the pop culture generation was a large reason for Clinton’s victory in 92′. Even though MTV continues to make wonderful contributions to society such as those mentioned above, it can also have a harmful effect if we as a society do not recognize when things cross that Good to Bad line (Rushkoff 158-161). This line is crossed when people don’t realize that in the grand scheme of media interaction, they are just a consumer. The only reason TV exists is for advertisement. Think of it this way, if no companies wished to advertise their product during the Superbowl, it would not be televised at all. In order for networks to make money, they need paid advertisements. In turn, the more viewers the network has watching their programs; the more companies will want their product to be advertised on said network. Keeping the audience “tuned in” is the key to establishing a loyal following, and therefore a loyal paycheck. Since music videos are relatively only a few minutes in length, they generally cater to the shorter attention spans of younger viewers. Because of the randomness of MTV’s programming, children are removed away from linear thinking and the end result is Beavis and Butthead. Beavis and Butthead are two prime examples of what happens to kids when they watch too much MTV. For those who have never seen the show before, Beavis and Butthead were two very unproductive teenage boys who spent most of there time watching music videos, insulting each other, and partaking in childish pranks. While most of society just thought the show was about mindless violence and crude jokes, they did not even realize that the show was slapping us in the face with our own cultural decay. Furthermore, the Beavis and Butthead show could be considered a blatant advertisement for Anti-MTV, however most of us did not pick up on that. Instead we were too busy blaming Beavis for setting fires. Which brings us to the Ugliness of the whole MTV phenomenon, the lack of responsibility we as viewers take when watching such popular programming (Rushkoff 153-157.) Much like soap operas and movies, MTV creates a fantasy world for its viewers to slip into 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This escape from reality can only be harmful if the idealisms that are portrayed become reality to the viewer. For instance, popular music entertainer, Cisco, can be seen hosting shows on MTV with his extremely attractive entourage of six half dressed females called “The Six Pack”. These images of luxury and fantasy are implanted into the subconscious of our more impressionable youths. Consequently, for those young people who are not aware of MTV’s purpose in creating these images of luxury, the result is accepting fantasy as reality. A young male may think that the more half naked women he has following him around, the more successful he is. This is a bit extreme, but extreme sells. However, the underlying theme is the point here. That theme being that MTV/television at any given point is trying to sell an image or a product that appeals to it’s designated viewers. Without these sales, MTV and television altogether would cease to exist. In conclusion, it is critical that we raise the bar for cultural and media awareness in today’s over-consumptious society. No one wants to be a sucker, and if the rise of awareness leads to the decrease in passive media consumption, we will be more practical in our decision-making and less influenced in our product consumption. We have control of the media, the media does not have control of us. We have the ability to decide what to watch on TV, what to listen to on the radio, and what to buy in the stores. If one is sick of seeing “this or that” on TV constantly, then (that person) they can turn the channel. I recall an episode of The Simpson’s, in which the town they lived in (Springfield) was being terrorized by oversized advertisements that mysteriously came to life. In a Godzilla-esque fashion, a fifty-foot “Big Boy” figure, along with many others, went on a destructive rampage. Needless to say this phenomena became a media event in Springfield. When little intelligent Lisa Simpson went to try and find out how to stop this senseless destruction, she found out that the only way to kill the fifty-foot advertisements was to not pay attention to them. By having such power we prove that we are in control of our moral evolution, for better or worse. Although we don’t want to be puppets to the media, it is impossible to escape from its existence. Even though MTV and other television programming is in the business of making money off of us, the consumers, it is possible to enjoy the entertainment aspects of television for virtually nothing; and still be smart in the process. “The more we look, the better we see.”- Lidia, from MTV’s Liquid Television Works Cited Philo, Simon. “Getting Dumber and Dumber: MTV’s Global Footprint.” Cultural Studies Study Group 16 Sept. 1999. Accessed 19 July 2000. Rushkoff, Douglas. Media Virus: Hidden Agendas in Popular Culture. New York: Ballantine, 1994.