Media violence: Pointing at the wrong culprit
Nowadays, violence in the streets is becoming commonplace.Headlines are screaming of assaults and other senseless crimes.Thus, it is necessary to understand what causes violence to minimize, if not stop, its prevalence in society.
In this age of technology, media is very influential among people because of its global reach. Thus, there have been arguments that media violence translates to societal violence.
Through the years, there has been an increase in the quantity of violence, and media has been transforming to a more sexual, graphic, and sadistic media. Because of the technological development, bullets exploding in people’s brains were seen in slow motion in movies. Wrestling fans cheer over hard-hitting action, and one particular video game’s, Grand Theft Auto, goal is murdering as many people as possible. Moreover, extremely violent lyrics are common in music. The Web makes access to all these kinds of media easily accessible as well as contains violent materials (Vidal, Clemente, & Espinosa, 2003).
The presence of cruelty in different types of media means that it is appealing to people. Violence is incorporated to media because it is what “sells” to people. The question now is, Does it cause societal violence?
Many believe that people exposed to violence in the media have a more aggressive behavior. Media has been accused of teaching children how to kill people. However, the actual connection between media and violence is yet to be established (Bushman & Anderson, 2001), and some researchers believe that blaming media is only one way for others who refuse to believe that the actual violence is seen at home and in the community. Indeed, guns, drugs, alcohol, and poverty heavily influence youth, much more than media does.
Those who are believed to be influenced by media live in ghetto cities where people mostly are in the low socioeconomic bracket and belong to the minority groups. A common factor among these people is the presence of abuse and violence, even before the media became a part of the popular culture. Rap music, accused for its violent lyrics, originated from these areas, a reflection of the experiences of those who created the music. Artists of metal music are said to incite violent tendencies among youth, and Marilyn Manson was blamed for the Columbine shooting.
Similar to rappers, metal music artists usually had poor upbringing and exposed to violence throughout their childhood. Cases against the rock bands claiming that they are responsible for influencing the violence in teenagers were dismissed because the teenagers were under the influence of drugs and, similarly to most artists, have depressing lives. In reality, music does not cause violence; rather, musicians are only expressing the violence that they experienced in the society.Approximately 90% of violent youths were exposed to violence at homes, were abused, and have depressing lives, even before they learned how to listen to music.
As regards movies depicting violent scenes, these only slightly increase aggression (Freedman, 2002). Similarly to music, movies only emulate reality, and the graphics only help to make films as “real life” as possible. Again, it is the poor home environment that raises a violent child. As an example, movies, animes, and video games in Japan are more violent than in the United States, but are there any reported incidents of shootings by teenagers at school? None. Furthermore, there are less incidence of crimes committed by teenagers.
Indeed, violence in society is rapidly rising, but people should not point their fingers at the wrong culprit—media. Media violence does not cause societal violence; rather, violence is only portrayed in media. Although it is true that violence in media increases aggression in children, ultimately, proper upbringing is essential to ensure that a child does not grow to be a violent person. Instead of focusing on media violence, people should focus on the real problem—poverty, drugs and alcohol, loose gun laws, and domestic violence.
Bushman, B. & Anderson, C. (2001). Media violence and the American public: Scientific fact
versus media misinformation. American Psychologist, 56(6–7), 477–489.
Freedman, J. (2002). Media violence and its effect on aggression: Assessing the scientific
evidence. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Vidal, M.A., Clemente, M., & Espinosa, P. (2003). Types of media violence and degree of