In todays world, there is an endless amount of information available to people everywhere around the globe. Mass media is definitely shaping our world, whether it is in a positive way or a negative way. Television and the radio waves provide us with hours of entertainment. The emergence of the Internet allows us to access thousands of pages of information within the reach our very own fingertips. But with the convenience of all this information comes along a certain level of responsibility.
As a society, we Americans must decide what is appropriate information and entertainment for the masses to access and enjoy. But does todays society give too much leeway in what it thinks as appropriate? Does increased violent, sexual, and other forms of possibly offensive content negatively effect our behaviors? What measures should the individuals of our society and the government takes in order to hide impressionable minds from the constant violent behavior exhibited in the mass media? In order to answer these questions, the first order of business is to define what would be considered objectionable content.
Todays society seems to focus upon the amount of violence found on television and in the lyrics of many different forms of music as the objectionable content of choice. Society chooses to focus upon violence because it is violent acts that seem to place the most influence on our behavior. Violence could be seen as any act that may represent the harm or death of one person, done by another or a group of people. But violence by itself does not capture the essential problem regarding media portrayal, according to the organizers of www. hc-sc. gc. ca. n Internet page speaking about the role of violence and gender within our society.
They make the distinction between violation and violence. Violation can occur when no violence in the ordinary sense takes place. A glance or other expression can be a violation when a differential in power or opportunity exists between characters. Violence can occur without involving violation. Much professional sport involves considerable violence, but at least when the rules are obeyed, little violation. This distinction is important because it is violence that clouds an impressionable mind, not violation.
This is so because a violation would have a somewhat reasonable cause, while violence is reckless and chaotic in its nature. According to E. F Dubow and L. S Miller, authors of Television Violence and Aggressive Behavior: Social Science Perspectives on Television, Ignoring consequences of violence (including the pain of victims, the victims families, and the families of perpetrators) or depicting the consequences unreasonably sets in motion a destructive encoding process. There could be found a direct correlation between aggressive behavior and violence witnessed on television.
The more violence watched, the more desensitized a viewer would become. Dubow and Miller further state viewers become [fearful] and begin to identify with the aggressors and the aggressors solutions to various problems. It is this identification that causes violent behaviors to become encoded in the persons mind when exposed to repeated violent acts. The person may then come to see the world as a bleak and sinister place. Along with this negative outlook on life comes the likelihood of the acting out the violent acts in order to solve ones own personal situations.
As child psychologist Dr. Stephen Garber states from an interview done for CNN news, there is so muchrealistic-type violence portrayed in movies and in other situations that does affect certain kinds of kids who cant tell the difference between reality and fantasy. Just looking at youth studies on violence and television, research does show there is a relationship between the two. By the time an average child leaves elementary school, he or she approximately will witness 8,000 murders and 100,000 acts of violence within the two through four hours of watching television on a daily basis.
Those numbers drastically increase by the time the child reaches the age of eighteen. At eighteen years old, the same child will have witnessed about 200,000 acts of violence and another 40,000 murders. Another shocking statistic is that fifteen percent of all television programs contain violent acts. That amounts to approximately 188 hours of violent programming on average. These statistics were provided the organizers of the Internet page www. mediaandthefamily. org. Another study done by the National Television Violence Study in 1996 showed that 70% of all violence acts on television went unsanctioned.
This is an important statistic because showing how violence is punished and its consequences is the most effective way to suppress the likelihood of violent behavior. In another study done over a ten-year span by Dr. Susan Villani, another child psychologist shows the correlation between violence in the media and aggressive behavior. In her study, Dr. Villani conducted a ten-year review of music. She found a clear association between heavy metal and hard rock music (which usually have very dark and violent tones), and reckless behavior.
She also found that those who choose heavy metal music as their preference had a much higher rate of suicidal thoughts. Dr. Villani then looked at music videos as a source of violent content. In her study, she found that 22% of music videos shown on MTV had violent acts as opposed to just 11% of the videos found on VH1. This means that MTV, whose primary audience is made up of teenagers and younger, witness more acts of violence than that of the average viewer of VH1, whose primary audience consists of adults ages 25 through 40. She also found that rap videos have the highest concentration of violence.
It is again the younger audience that witnesses the violence since the majority of listeners of rap music are made up of younger people. Dr. Villani then did another study that concerned the violence seen on the broadcast news coverage and its impression on developing youth. Her study showed that there was no prevalence of intense negative emotional reactions to news coverage of the Persian Gulf War. However, young children showed a greater sense of fear when examined by their parents concerning actual violent events, like the Gulf War.
This means that children were able to distinguish, for the most part, fantastical events of violence from those based in reality. Dr. Villani also found that reports of natural disasters, robberies, and murders greatly increase feelings of anxiety, stress, and fear in younger children. The repetitive nature of visual coverage that is found on television of these violent events may cause children to believe that the same events occur over and over again. From these numbers and bits of data, psychologists have come to the conclusion that there must be a positive correlation between violent exposure and behavior.
The American Psychiatric Association has advocated the lessening of objectionable content on television for many years. The APA has always encouraged the voluntary restraint of questionable content by the major television networks and cable stations. However, the networks go for ratings, and in todays society violence and sexuality brings in big money. So the request of voluntary restraint by the providers of televised entertainment has gone unheard. The APA now believes that the government should take a more active role, and advocates regulatory actions should be pursued under the allowance of the Constitution.
Now that we know the watching of violent content greatly effects how one behaves, where should society draw the line on what is objectionable and what is not? In an interview conducted by Charles Feldman and Paul Vercammen for CNN news on March 26, 1998, actor Bruce Willis, star of such violent blockbusters like the Die Hard Trilogy, and stated that violent content that is found in movies, television, and other forms of media is just a reflection on life. Willis stated, If the world was a nice little garden with little cottages around and we were killing bunny rabbits on screen, would you raise your hand and say This is a mistake.
The purpose of Willis job as an entertainer is to faithfully mimic reality as the script sees fit. If the script calls for violence and sexuality, some see it as an obligation to follow it for the proper basis, despite its controversial content. Even if the correlation between watching violent acts and violent behavior is replicated by study after study, the creative freedom and right of free speech that all writers, directors, and actors possess, must still be upheld. This is how society now decides what is acceptable and what is not.
Todays world thinks that staying true to reality is what creates art in entertainment. The individual now decides what is acceptable to him or herself. There is no longer a larger, collective opinion in this point in time. In the 21st century, there are mostly leaders that voice their subjective views upon the rest of the world. The individuals that create the authority in the family unit are solely responsible for what is quality and what is trash. It is no longer the job of the government or other organizations to decide what is morally acceptable to watch on television.
The decision lies within the individual of what is acceptable and what is not. As long as the person feels comfortable with what is being shown, any form of content should be allowed. Despite all the arguing among the conservative thinkers and the liberal thinkers, society wants violence and sexuality in their lives. Those who cannot get their enough of both in their own lives turn to television, music, movies, and video games to fulfill their animal instincts for the need of survival, death, love, and lust.
Keeping these raging feelings down within is the origin of the problem of censorship and free speech. Those who cannot deal with violence and lust within their own lives look towards the attitude if I cannot organize my feelings about violence within myself, then I will not allow anyone else to as well. This attitude manifests itself into the action of censorship. Censorship within given limits is probably necessary now. But taken too far, censorship not only limits creativity, it also limits our right to choose what we enjoy and hate.