Television Violence Effects On Our Society

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Television Violence: Effects On Our Society Essay, Research Paper I. Introduction Television Violence is at the forefront of an ongoing debate in American society. In particular is the question of whether or not those (primarily children) exposed to violence in programs on a daily basis are profoundly affected by it. It has long been proposed that indeed such content has the ability to influence behavior. In this paper I will examine some of the ways TV violence affects our social culture. Through studies and various authors views television violence will be examined including network programming and economic factors involved in this issue. Origin and the pervasiveness of violence as it relates to the entertainment industry in our culture is also considered. Television

Violence indeed has a profound impact on the world in which we live, and this can be witnessed in events we encounter on a daily basis. II. The Effects of Television Violence: Theories Much of the debate about violence in television programs concerns the possibility of its harmful effects on behavior. Noting this concern Hansen and Hansen (1990) introduced this question: “why is the … violence there in the first place?? (Hepburn 1998). Their reply began: “the conventional wisdom seems to be that … violence ’sells’; that, for whatever reason, violence … increases enjoyment …” (Hepburn 1998). Do viewers enjoy seeing violence, in any or all of its forms? If people like to see violence, will they watch it more often, or will more people watch violence than other

spectacles? (Hepburn 1998). If the answers to the first two questions are not positive, and even if they are, what else is it about violence-containing entertainment that does reward and reinforce viewers? (Hepburn 1998). If studies do not endorse the value of violence why does the entertainment industry continue to believe, or to proclaim that “violence sells”? (Hepburn 1998). One thing is for certain, American television programs are filled with violence. The effects of television violence can no longer be denied. Presently there is little debate on whether TV violence has an impact on society. Among the widely accepted assumptions are: * Television violence can lead to imitation. * Witnessing repeated violent acts can lead to desensitization and a lack of empathy for human

suffering. * The cumulative impact of violence-laden imagery can lead to a “mean- world” perspective, in which viewers have an unrealistically dark view of life (Goodale 1996). Quoting a 1996 UCLA study: “We found that a good deal of violence goes unpunished, the pain or harm is unrealistic, and if someone gets hurt, it has no bearing on real life,” this explains much of the reason why violence on television is so powerfully destructive on children…it diminishes it?s reality (Goodale 1996). Perhaps the most dangerous of television violence effects is the one that also gets the most media coverage: imitation. The fire-setting and burning of a subway token-booth clerk in New York City replicated in real life a movie incident in a recent action thriller (Callahan 1996).

Scores of such copycat crimes are regularly reported. Violent images on TV or in the movies have inspired people to set spouses on fire in their beds, lie down in the middle of highways, extort money by placing bombs in airplanes, rape people in particularly disgusting ways, and who knows how many other kinds of shootings and assaults (Callahan 1996). Can society still honestly doubt that violent and criminal images in the media or in music incite aggressive behavior? (Callahan 1996). Only those making mints of money purveying violence to the American public even try to defend the practice (Callahan 1996). Such defenders of the poor state of our media will usually claim that (1) real life is violent, so why not be honest and show it; and (2) only a few vulnerable aggression-prone