Media Violence/Social Deviance Media Violence Term Paper

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In 1999, the average person in England and Wales watched 26 hours of television and listened to 19 hours of radio per week - this amounts to 40% of their waking life, and the figures are higher for youth and in particular working class youth (Young). Not only has the quantity of media usage increased, but the level of violence depicted in the media has increased dramatically, due in part to the luring of a youth audience (Young). For example, in the 1950's television series, Dragnet, there were a total of fifteen bullets fired during an entire season, compared to the multiple killings in a typical television series today. The hero in the 1987 movie, Robocop, killed 32 people, while in the 1990 Robocop II, he killed 81, and the 1989 Rambo III killed roughly twice as many in the 1985 original Rambo, and then there is Bruce Willis' Die Hard movies in which he killed 18 in the original and increased the killings to 264 in the 1990 sequel (Young). Furthermore, according to Young, there is a tendency to underestimate the Video Games industry as a serious form of mass communication, however in 2000 in the United Kingdom, spending on computer games far surpassed the film industry even when video sales, rental and box office takings were combined (Young). With video games, there is a morphing of virtuality and reality. The technological developments in modern warfare has resulted in a "distancing" between the powers and their opponents, thus the enemy is basically a digital target on a screen, the impact of weaponry is merely a blip on the monitor, thus the true impact upon human beings in never witnessed (Young). And as Young notes, there are immediate parallels between the screen in the FI-11 fighter planes and those in the arcade or home games, therefore one of the most popular modes of entertainment today mimics modern technological warfare and are in fact training programs for many fighter pilots (Young).

Therefore, Young believes that it is important for researchers to take into account the massive changes in the complexity of the mass media and the structure of the audience (namely the high divorce rates and single-parenting) that have occurred in recent decades (Young).

Gary F. Jensen of Vanderbilt University notes that by focusing on concepts such as desensitization and imitation that it is easy to ignore the fact that human behavior is a learned behavior. As one researcher stated: "Human behavior is learned; precisely that behavior which is widely felt to characterize man as a rational being, or as a member of a particular nation or social class, is acquired rather than innate" (Jensen). The central principle of a social learning approach to any form of crime is basically, "law-breaking behavior is best understood if it is approached as learned, rather than biologically determined, behavior" (Jensen).

Timothy F. Kim reports in the September 2006 issue of Family Practice News, that while the media shares the blame for the increasing incidences of girl violence, this tide would not be rising if females did not naturally have tendencies to aggression that are in many ways as strong as those of males (Kim). In one recent study, children played a video game that involved dropping bombs. In one group the children were introduced to one another, while in the second group the subjects remained anonymous (Kim). In the first group, the boys dropped more bombs during the game than the girls, an average of 31 bombs versus 27 bombs, however in the anonymous group, both boys and girls increased the number of bombs they dropped, but the girls had a greater increase and even tended to drop more bombs than the boys, an average of 41 bombs versus 37 bombs (Kim). Therefore, the role that the media has played in creating a rise in girl violence in not by encouraging it, but rather by removing constraints that previously inhibited it (Kim).

Based on numerous studies, research indicated a strong correlation between viewing media violence and aggressive behavior. During the 1960's, studies indicated that females were immune to the effect of television violence, but by the 1980's that was no longer true (Kim). Kim believes that what has changed is the fact that media has become more violent, moreover, the heroes became as violent as the bad guys, and many of those heroes are female (Kim). These images, which send the message that one can be a good guy and be violent, validate that it is acceptable to be violent if one becomes too agitated (Kim). In the past, when girls were told "girls don't hit," the culture essentially backed that up, however today the media sends the message that strong females do hit (Kim). For example, in the third Harry Potter movie, after the female character, Hermione, punches the bully, Draco Malfoy, she turns around to cheers and says, "That felt good" (Kim). Thus the message is clear, good, strong, and powerful girls do it and they enjoy it (Kim).

Barry S. Sapolsky in the June 2003 issue of the Journal of Broadcasting

Electronic Media notes that the mass media also influences society's sexual attitudes and behaviors. Although parents and lawmakers criticize the media for their portrayals of sex, the outlets for and diversity of sexual fare continue to grow as does the toleration of sexual imagery (Sapolsky). Among the major concerns is the media's "lack of attention to risks and responsibilities in depictions of sexual behavior, the mixture of sex and violence in pornography, and the ready availability of porn on the Internet (Sapolsky). According to the Presidential Commission, research on the effect of exposure to nonviolent erotica found that mildly arousing, pleasing stimuli actually lowered male hostility and aggression toward other males, and male subjects who were motivated to behave aggressively were unable to maintain their anger due to the positive emotions triggered by pleasant erotic images (Sapolsky). However, by the 1980's, pornography began to change, and themes of female subordination, bondage, sado-masochism, and rape became increasingly prevalent (Sapolsky). Research has demonstrated that men who are exposed to pornography containing rape are more likely to "accept rape myths (such as women secretly desire to be raped), be sexually aroused to rape, self-report the possibility of committing rape, see the victim as responsible, and show less sensitivity to rape" (Sapolsky). Studies have also found that violent porn can increase male aggression toward females, and that linkage of sex and violence can lead to "calloused attitudes toward females and rape victims, teach men anti-woman acts, and create sexually-aggressive thoughts and fantasies" (Sapolsky).

There has been much debate as to whether it is the violence or the sex in violent porn that contributes to aggressive behavior in males and expressions of callous attitudes toward rape victims (Sapolsky). A 1984 study found that nonviolent porn that was degrading to women could produce callousness toward rape victims, while a 1989 study found that it is not the sex but the violence that is central in influencing male viewers' responses, thus research suggests that both violent and nonviolent porn can have parallel effects on males' reactions to victims in sexually violent porn (Sapolsky).

Sapolsky concludes that pornography with violent and degrading scenarios can foster acceptance of violence toward women and anti-female attitudes; television programming often conveys the message that sex outside of marriage is the norm and that sexual partners need not be concerned about unwanted pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases (Sapolsky). Moreover, the media plays an important role in the sexual socialization of adolescents, for their sexual identity is largely forged by the magazines, movies, music videos, and television programming that they regularly consume (Sapolsky). Michael W. Ross cautions in the November 2005 issue of the Journal of Sex Research that these new technologies, namely the Internet, have opened a whole new world for pornography, for now there is privacy and secrecy, thus parents, in particular, should be aware that their children can easily fall victim to not only exposure to pornography but may easily fall victim to sexual predators through innocent online chat rooms (Ross).

According to Azy Barak in the November 2001 issue of the Journal of Sex Research, spectacular growth in availability of sexually explicit material on the Internet has created an unprecedented opportunity for individuals to have anonymous, cost-free, and unfettered access to an essentially unlimited range of sexually explicit texts, still and moving images, and audio materials (Barak). In a way never before imagined, males and females, adults and children, can access sexually explicit content on the Internet, "effortlessly and privately, as a direct expression of their sexual and personal characteristics and inclinations," and such material may act to alter the sexual and personal dispositions that incline individuals to seek out Internet sexuality in…[continue]

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