If you look back to television in the 1950s, acts of violence were rare, especially during prime time television because it was seen as indecent or inappropriate for people to watch. Today on television there are an average of 4.21 acts of violence per hour on prime time television. What has caused this shift in media? It is because society is slowly becoming desensitized to it causing people to beg for more violence to keep audiences interested.
Some argue that viewing this media violence has no effect, but the 1982 Surgeon Generals Report states, “Totality of evidence supports conclusions of the casual relationship between televised violence and later aggressive behavior.” Repeated exposure to this violence has harmful effects on individuals such as increase in aggression, fear, desensitization, and dis-inhibition. Aggression is brought out in children because they want to be tough like the people that are portrayed as heroes in the media. Though all aspects of life, people follow to the media to show them society norms, so when a character beats another one up, it makes children believe that is an acceptable action in reality.
These effects are especially seen in heavy viewers of television, which is commonly teenagers, with Mean World Syndrome. Mean World Syndrome is when you have a heightened perception of personal danger and violence in society than there actually is. Teens feel all of society is bad because of all the bad actions they see people do on these shows. Due to the fact that they fear life more than they should, they become more aggressive to protect themselves from the dangerous life they think they are living in.
Many movies and television shows portray violence in a positive or justified way sometimes, also known as happy violence. Often use as comedy, justification in its actions, highly entertaining, and leads to a happy ending. Recently, this phenomenon has become extremely popular and is seen directly in the show “Dexter.” This is a show where the main character, Dexter, is a serial killer that murders criminals. His actions seem justified due to the fact that he is killing murders, but is that a good enough reason to take someone’s life? The portrayal of “happy violence” is an outcome of the increased desensitization of our youth. There was some controversy over whether “Dexter” should be allowed to be aired on television and it is discussed further in this article: https://drg04543.wordpress.com/2011/03/11/dexter-moral-dilemma-controversy-and-appeal/
Violence is predominate in the media market because it is cheap, profitable, and sells globally. Along with the consumer demand for more violent type media, there is also an increased portrayal of violence because each show or movie tries to compete with one another to be more interesting. Sadly in our society, many time more interesting means more violent. For example, in each “Rambo” movie, the number of deaths increased with each sequel. In this chart, you can see the increased number of deaths and violence from movie to movie: http://flowingdata.com/2008/02/22/rambo-kill-counts-from-parts-i-ii-iii-and-iv/ The producers increased the violence with each movie because they thought the more acts of violence would keep the audience more intrigued.
Overall, we need to keep track of the tricks that the media is trapping us into because the violence we have become desensitized to in media may become desensitized violence in reality.
“Dexter: Moral Dilemma, Controversy, and Appeal.” DGerow Blogs. Word Press, 2014. Web. 30 Nov. 2014.
File, Patrick. “FCC Releases Report on Television Violence.” Ed. Bulletin. University of Minnesota. U of Minn, Aug. 2012. Web. 30 Nov. 2014
“Rambo Kill Counts From Parts I, II, III, and IV.” Rambo Kill Counts From Parts I, II, III, and IV. Flowing Data, 2014. Web. 30 Nov. 2014.
Troppe, Sheila. “Television and Teens.” Yale. Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute, 2013. Web. 30 Nov. 2014.