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Does violence on television cause aggressive behaviour?

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Introduction

Joshua Randell Paramecium 23/11/04 Does violence on television cause aggressive behaviour? An 18-year-old boy locks himself in his room, mesmerized for hours by the corpse-filled video game Doom, whilst Marilyn Manson screams obscenities from the stereo. Shelved nearby are a video collection, including the graphically violent film Natural Born Killers, and a diary, replicating the unrestrained expressions of hate and death, published on the boy's personal website. Should this boy's media preference be cause for alarm? The question is not new, but the massacre of 12 students and a teacher by fellow students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold in 1999 has added urgency to the search for answers. The Colorado teenagers reportedly immersed themselves in the same media described above, even producing and starring in their own murderous video before gunning down their classmates, and apparently taking their own lives. We live in a world of violence -- Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, the West Bank, and abortion clinics. The value of human life has reduced to, simply, a few vital organs in a hollow body. Life is no longer viewed as the sacred gift that it is. Human life is now only a temporary, useful commodity. And, when it is no longer useful? Well, it can be thrown away, like used tissues. This irreverence for life has been a result of numerous hours of senseless violence society feeds into their brains every day. Yet, media representatives defend the entertainment industry, denying any direct link between violent media and violent behaviour, to a certain extent this is true. ...read more.

Middle

Rather we expose ourselves to the heat slowly, dipping only our toe in, until we have slowly submerged our entire body. We become desensitized to the hot water, by slowly exposing ourselves to the water a little bit, slowly, over a long period. Thus if we were overwhelmed with horrifying images and violence in the media, without previous exposure, the effects would be devastating, rather we are exposed to violence in small doses, eventually building up an amount of mental immunity. This type of desensitization is exemplified in society today. Every night on the news, we are plagued with horrible pictures and stories of violence and terror, but we rarely become shocked by any of it. This could very well be because exposure to so much violence on television in the past, especially during childhood, has caused us to be immune. Children who witness violence in this way or through the media in the form of entertainment, such as wrestling, may then come away from the experience thinking that violence is acceptable, and they may be more likely to re-enact televised situations in the future. Similarly, whilst much of the influencing occurs with respect to children, it must be remembered that we were all children once, and the children of today will all be adults eventually, and though our opinions change as we grow, the aggression and insensitivity that is ingrained changes little, in the case of men aggressive tendencies increase as age does. ...read more.

Conclusion

He believed that the audience became psychologically involved with the story on stage, even though they knew it was 100% fiction. He felt when aggression climaxed with the actors, there was a "catharsis" in the audience, which was pleasurable to experience and left the audience "cleansed, uplifted, and less likely to act violently among themselves." Sigmund Freud also felt as Aristotle did by saying, "Unless people were allowed to express themselves aggressively, the aggressive energy would be dammed up, pressure would build, and the aggressive energy would seek an outlet, either exploding into acts of extreme violence or manifesting itself as symptoms of mental illness .... But there is no direct evidence for this conclusion." Thus it can be seen that a multitude of reasons exist supporting and opposing the argument, though as with many social problems, determining a general answer to the question is very difficult, and often futile, because, as can be seen from some of the evidence given, it is rather a large collection of individual cases that seem to support both sides of the argument than a clear general trend. Some people may be more susceptible, others not so. Only the ones we hear about, the ones that make the headlines, are the extreme cases. It would seem that people have been made more aggressive by the violence on TV, although that violence was already there, even if only visible to a relative few, yet when it is beamed to many, some are shocked and seek to label television and media networks in general as a bad influence on society, completely glossing over all their many saving graces. ...read more.

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