Media violence concern is a real issue that has rocked the media fraternity. Media violence debates raged in the United States the time Reagan deregulated childrens television. The violence was rekindled after the Montreal massacre on 6th December 1989. Moreover, the rash of high school shootings in Europe and North America at the century has refuelled the debate. Many pundits have it that violence in media is partly to blame for the school shootings in Colorado, Alberta, Littleton and Erfurt, Germany. Psychologist Dave Grossman, an American activist relates it squarely to movies and video games.
Grossman argues that kids have been desensitized to the consequences of violence by Hollywood films while theyve learnt how to handle guns from video games. Psychiatrist Serge Tisseron however argues that watching a film with a murder scene not necessarily means that people are going to commit murder, it instead under-estimates the role of parents while overstating the power of the film (Bushman, B.J.; Anderson, C.A, 2001).
It is argued by some social scientists that media violence causes real-life aggression while some assert that a very weak correlation exists between the two. Media violence has been considered a public health issue. However, there has been insufficient proof to convince the American Medical Association and Canadian Paediatric Society that media violence is indeed a public health issue. Besides, government is obliged to protect people from smoking or drinking with or without scientific certainty. All it requires is the proof of risk that smoking or drinking will increase the probability of negative implications.
Media violence has been deemed as artistic expression. There is an argument that the crusade against media violence is more or less a form of censorship that would hamper artistic expression. Researchers like R. Hodge and D. Tripp argue that violence in media is qualitatively different from real violence; it is simply a natural indicator of conflict and difference because lack of representation of conflict would seriously impoverish the past and present art. A number of commentators from film makers to artists to historians agree with this. Comic writer Gerard Jones argues that violent movies, video games, music and comics help people pull out of emotional traps. Moreover, author Richard Rhodes asserts that violent video games help young people challenge their feeling of powerlessness
Media violence also entails free speech. American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression gives a number of reasons to defend media violence as a way of free expression. It argues that root cause of violence in society wont be solved by media censorship, decision on what is acceptable content is generally a subjective exercise, additionally, some of the films, plays and books prohibited in the past are deemed classic today.
Moreover, its an individual decision to decide whats appropriate to them and their children and not the governments decision. Centre for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA) 1999 study of entertainment violence noted that media violence can turn to be a compelling social commentary. Media violence has also been related to the uncivil society. Many commentators have expressed concern that media violence has become rooted in the cultural environment; that in some manner, it has become merely part of the psychic air children and young adults breathe. The violent, profane, mean and crude environment may erode societal civility by despising and displacing positive social values.
Todd Gitlin mentions that media violence has become a red herring that politicians use to divert societys attention from real social problems. He says that there exists minimal political will to counter poverty, guns or family breakdown; instead, much attention is given to media violence. Gitlin puts it out that instead of focusing on violent media content, efforts should be exerted in condemning trash on the grounds which coarsen the capacity to know and feel fully the human experience in the society where we live.
Media violence has been related to the inequitable society. Gerbner argues that media violence is a show of power; it demonstrates ones place in the pecking order which runs the society. His study of television violence indicates that villains are portrayed as male, poor, young members of minorities while victims are lots of female. He mentions that by making the world a dangerous place for the whites, majority would be more than willing to give more power to the authorities to enforce this status quo.
Additionally, some groups have argued that media violence should be handled as a consumer choice. Basically it depends with the viewer to choose, select and decide what to watch. That if one doesnt like television violence, and then better turn off the television set. However, some research shows that the popularity of a TV program depends more on time scheduling than the content. Many people watch according to their free time as opposed to what the program itself has. Joanne Cantor criticizes the media for claiming that parents are to decide what their kids are to watch and what not to watch yet the media makes spontaneous adverts which automatically come to the television in the presence of the kids.
Cantor argues that parents require some tools to help them in making decisions as to what is healthy and unhealthy for their children. For example get the V-chip which helps in television programming to screen out some shows.
In conclusion, censor is not necessarily the absolute remedy to media violence. Neither does parental care be. But instead calls for efforts from across the board; the government, the advertising companies, the media groups themselves and the parents. Joint effort is vital to filter what is ethically relevant from what is unethical and irrelevant. Focus should be on what people do with media rather than what media do to people. For instance, different media images produce different responses from the different users; thus people are actively involved in determination of the interpretation of the media messages.
Bushman, B.J.; Anderson, C.A. (2001). "Media violence and the American public: Scientific facts versus media misinformation".
Freedman, Jonathan L. (2002). Media violence and its effect on aggression: Assessing the scientific evidence.
Ferguson, C. J.; Kilburn, J. (2009). "The Public Health Risks of Media Violence: A Meta-Analytic Review". The Journal of Paediatrics
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