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To what extent can it be argued that violent films cause violence in society?

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Introduction

To what extent can it be argued that violent films cause violence in society? The claim that violent films, as well as violent media, cause violence in society can be both supported and contradicted with reference to sociological studies and theory. Proponents of the Hypodermic Model would argue that the media message, in this case violence, directly affects and changes the behaviour of the audience, hence resulting in violent behaviour. The Cultural Effects Model argues that a media message of violence will eventually socialize the audience to accepting it as normal- resulting, in some cases, with violent behaviour. On the other hand, the Interpretive Model argues that the violent media and films will depend on the audience, while the Structured Interpretation Model argues that a dominant media message of violence can be read in different ways, leading to different reactions. However, it is clear that violent media can have an influence on society- with the theories differing mainly on the extent and form of this effect. It can be said that violent films can cause violence in society. The Hypodermic Model, within which it is argued that the media message directly affects and changes the behaviour of the audience, can be used in support of this argument. It is also backed up by theorists; including Shannon and Weaver (1949) ...read more.

Middle

The Model argues that a constant or consistent media diet of violence will eventually socialize the audience into accepting violence as normal- and hence resulting in greater violence in society. Parke et al (1977) argued that young children not prone to violence could become more aggressive if exposed to a steady stream of violence in the media- clearly supporting the view as well as the Cultural Effects Model. Anderson and Dill, in the 'General Affective Aggression Model' that involved a survey as well as an experiment based on playing a violent video game, and then punishing 'opponents' with a noise blast, argue that violent media content can stimulate aggressive behaviour. Newson claims that a media diet of violence can result in the distortion of emotions and the de-sensitisation of younger viewers. The American Association of Paediatrics, in a study on the impact of screen violence, argued that the continuous viewing of screen violence can lead to the build-up of wrong messages stressing the effectiveness of violence. Real-life examples also justify the view that violent films and media cause violence in society- note the influence of viewing violent films in the Bulger murder, and the Columbine massacre. However, many of these studies are criticized by sociologists, mainly because most of them are psychological studies conducted within a laboratory setting, hence lacking ecological validity. ...read more.

Conclusion

The extent to which a violent media message results in violence in society is also affected by mediating factors. Merton, Katz and Lazarsfeld's 'Two-Step Flow' Model argues that a media message is interpreted by important people who guide our interpretation. In this case, it can be argued that a media message of violence within a film can be interpreted and presented to people as negative by individuals such as parents, preachers and others- hence breaking the assumption that violent films can directly cause violence in society. Structured Interpretation on the other hand argues that there still is a dominant and strong media message- in this case, of violent behaviour, and the extent to which this message is interpreted again depends on the audience. In conclusion, it can be said that violent films and violent media content can influence violence in society, as pointed out in many studies, but cannot directly cause it. The extent to which violence in society is caused by violent media content will depend mainly on the way which the audience interprets it, and the way in which the audience acts on this interpretation and message. However, it can be said that other factors, including socialization as well as personal experiences probably play a greater role in causing violence in society than violent films and violent media messages. ?? ?? ?? ?? Edwin Loo 13K 08/03/2008 Sociology Essay Page 2 of 2 ...read more.

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