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Does Media Violence Lead to Aggression and Societal Violence?

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Introduction

Man-Ju Lin Sara Talpos English 125 16 April 2006 Does Media Violence Lead to Aggression and Societal Violence? In 2003 Devin Moore, a teenager from Alabama, was caught and brought to police station on suspicion of stealing a car. In the police station, Moore said to Ace Mealer, a 911 dispatcher, "Life is a video game. You've got to die sometime" (par. 16). He suddenly grabbed the gun and shot three police officers, then drove off in a police car but was later apprehended. On October 9th 2005, he was sentenced to death by lethal injection. Moore had played the violent video game Grand Theft Auto day and night for months. This violent video game has sold more than 35 million copies, with worldwide sales approaching $2 billion. It is a game that provides the pseudo-world that is governed by the laws of depravity (Associated Press). The famous case of Devin Moore motivated by this game serves as an evidence for the "copycat" crimes, which raised the concern on the effect of media violence. The debate over the effects of media violence began in 1920s when researchers in the United States and Great Britain began studying the effect of the introduction of television. ...read more.

Middle

According to Gerbner's research, children could learn from television and believe that violence is the acceptable way to solve conflict. Children who grow up in such environment will generally internalise distorted views of the social world and make assumptions about various aspects that is not based on reality. However, cultivation is "usually described as a hypothesis rather than a formal media effects theory due to a lack of supporting, empirical evidence to explain how the cultivation process occurs" (Bryant et al. 102). When considering the possible effects media violence may have on the audience, we also need to account for television viewers' age, gender, social status, and other psychological traits since these also affects their way of perceiving images portrayed in television. One cannot conclude that media violence leads to aggression without carefully considering these actors. Recent statistics have also shown that the portrayal of violence in media does not necessarily cause societal violence. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics report in 1998, violent crimes have decreased 7 percent compared to 1997. They reported in 1999 "the number of high school students who fight or carry weapon is smaller than in years past" (Bryant et al. 187). "Large spikes in violent crime in the United States occurred without associated media violence spikes during the 1880s and 1930s" (Wikipedia). ...read more.

Conclusion

Different audiences can interpret and make meanings of media text by using their diverse cultual tools such as language, religion, pre-existing belief, experience and values (Croteau et al.). Audience are free-thinking and free-spirited. We would respond differently to the same media text. We would also interact with other audience and develop shared meanings of media content. When we perceive violent messages in the media, we would express and exchange our feelings with others. We do not simply mimic the violent act. We would not be directly affected by the message because we actively interprete the message by applying our cognition, logic , prior experiences and knowledge. We know that violence is wrong and may lead to punishment thus we would not behave violently. Hence media violence would not necessarily lead us to behave violently and commit violent crimes. The issue of media violence is controversial indeed. If we take a step back and ask ourselves who is responsible for societal violence, media is definitely not the only answer. Teenagers who know that violent behavior is wrong but still engage in violent acts deserve punishment and should blame themselves. Irresponsible parents who failed to educate their children or even abuse the children should be blamed. Government that failed to implement measures such as gun control to prevent societal violence should also be blamed. After all, media is not the sole factor that contributes to societal violence. ...read more.

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