Violence in media
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- For several years now, various groups have urged the banning of crime pictures on the ground that they influence youths to turn to crime. When Jimmy Walker was minority leader of the New York legislature, there was a censorship fight on the floor of the House. A powerful group of pious bluenoses wanted to bar from circulation good books that dared to mention certain well-known facts of life. The bluenoses said the books were indecent, bawdy, lascivious and would lead their young and innocent daughters astray. Jimmy stood the debate as long as he could, then he said, "I have been around a good deal, but I have never heard of a woman's being seduced by a book." That killed the censorship bill.
- I have never heard of any youngster going wrong, turning to crime, because of the movies. It simply isn't possible. Our relation to crime is, in a sense, the same as the prison warden's. We don't create it. We deal with it after it has happened, and we always make the criminal look bad.
When I went to college, I studied under a professor of geology who wanted to make us understand how the different peoples of the world got the way they are, their racial tendencies and characteristics, dark-skinned Africans and fair-haired Swedes. He cited geography and climate and food and opportunities, and he summed it all up with the phrase: "We are what we are largely because we are where we are."
The proof of the argument can be found in the Uniform Crime Reports and the Department of Justice. The spot maps of cities show it. Not so long ago, I examined some maps showing juvenile delinquency, diptheria, tuberculosis and murder quotients in a number of cities from New Orleans to Los Angeles. The maps all looked alike. Disease, crime and delinquency were invariably grouped in the same parts of the cities — in the slum districts. That is the cause of crime, not the motion picture.
- Humphrey Bogart, “Censorship: Jimmy Walker Never Heard of a Book Seducing a Dame but Bluenoses are Still on the Trail of our Films”, Hollywood Reporter, (Oct 1941); republished in “When Humphrey Bogart Tackled Movie Censorship in 1941”, Hollywood Reporter, (2/27/2018).
- Crime and the processing of offenders offers an opportunity for the celebration of conformity and respectability by redefining the moral boundaries of communities and drawing their members together against the threat of chaos … Crime news may serve as the focus for the articulation of shared morality and communal sentiments. A chance not simply to speak to the community but for the community, against all that the criminal outsider represents, to delineate the shape of the threat, to advocate a response, to eulogise on conformity to established norms and values, and to warn of the consequences of deviance. In short, crime news provides a chance for a newspaper to appropriate the moral conscience of its readership […] The existence of crime news disseminated by the mass media means that people no longer need to gather together to witness punishments. They can remain at home for moral instruction.
- Chibnall, S., Law and Order News, London, Tavistock, 1977, pp. x-xi; ; as qtd. in Julian Petley, "“Are We Insane ?”. The “Video Nasty” Moral Panic", Paniques et croisades morales, 43-1, 2012, pp. 35-57.
- There have been four decades of research on the effect of media violence on our kids and it all points to the same conclusion -- media violence leads to more aggression, anti-social behavior, and it desensitizes kids to violence. The American Academy of Pediatrics summed up this point in a report entitled Media Exposure Feeding Children's Violent Acts. "Playing violent video games is to an adolescent's violent behavior what smoking tobacco is to lung cancer," it said. This isn't about offending our sensibilities -- it is about protecting our children.
- We know that violent video games have an impact on children. Just recently there was cutting edge research conducted at Indiana University School of Medicine, which concluded that adolescents with more exposure to violent media were less able to control and to direct their thoughts and behavior, to stay focused on a task, to plan, to screen out distractions, and to use experience to guide inhibitions.
- So if I act like a pimp ain't nothin to it gangsta rap made me do it
If I call you a nappy headed ho ain't nothin to it gangsta rap made me do it
If I shoot up your college ain't nothin to it gangsta rap made me do it
If I rob you of knowledge ain't nothin to it gangsta rap made me do it
- A primary issue with the media’s inaccurate depiction of crime and the criminal justice system is that it socially constructs people’s perceptions about the nature of crime and how the criminal justice system works. Since most people rely on the media for their information about these topics, their perceptions about the system are skewed by this inaccurate information. Additionally, we know that people may act on their perceptions, such as by supporting certain crime and justice programs over others programs that do not fit with their perceptions, but which may be based on more accurate information. Several studies indicate that the images of crime and justice in the media impact the criminal justice system (Duwe, 2000; Hansen, 2001; Potter & Kappeler, 2006; Surette, 2007). For example, Hansen (2001) explains how news coverage of selected high profile juvenile crimes, in combination with coverage of drug and violent crimes in the 1980s and 1990s impacted the creation of get-tough policies for juvenile offenders (e.g., waivers to adult court, longer sentences, etc.).More specifically, the extant literature demonstrates that fictional crime dramas influence viewers’attitudes towards the criminal justice system (Dowler, 2002; Kort-Butler & Sittner-Hartshorn, 2011), its actors (Dowler & Zawilski, 2007;Huey,2010),and increases fear of crime (Eschholz, Chiricos, & Gertz, 2003). One particular concern specific to fictional crime dramas, often referred to as the ‘CSI Effect,’ postulates viewers develop expectations for police and courtroom settings regarding the collection, evaluation, and presentation of physical evidence, including DNA evidence (Dowler, Fleming, & Muzzatti, 2006;Goodman-Delahunty & Tait,2006). Much ofthe general publics’ exposure to crime and the criminal justice system comes fromfictional crime dramas. Since it is possible that the majority of people’s exposure to the criminal justice system is largely through crime fictional dramas, it is important to understand how the system, police specifically, are portrayed in these dramas.
- Gayle M. Rhineberger-Dunn , “Clearing Crime in Prime-Time: The Disjuncture Between Fiction and Reality”, American Journal of Criminal Justice, (June 2015).
- Research on the effect that the media has on the public revolves around two interconnected issues. Does coverage of sensationalistic and violent crime create fear among the general public and does this fear influence criminal justice policy attitudes? Review of the research indicates that there are mixed results regarding the influence of the news media on creating an attitude of fear among the general public (Surette, 1998). In an early study, Gerbner et al (1980) hypothesized that heavy viewing of television violence leads to fear rather than aggression. Gerbner et al (1980) find that individuals who watch a large amount of television are more likely to feel a greater threat from crime, believe crime is more prevalent than statistics indicate, and take more precautions against crime. They find that crime portrayed on television is significantly more violent, random, and dangerous than crime in the "real" world. The researchers argue that viewers internalize these images and develop a "mean world view" or a scary image of reality. This view is characterized by "mistrust, cynicism, alienation, and perceptions of higher than average levels of threat of crime in society" (Surette, 1990:8). Further studies on the relationship between fear and television viewing indicate a direct and strong relationship (Barille, 1984; Bryant, Carveth and Brown, 1981; Hawkins and Pingree, 1980; Morgan, 1983; Williams, Zabrack and Joy, 1982, Weaver and Wakshlag, 1986). Conversely, Rice and Anderson (1990) find a weak, positive association between television viewing and fear of crime, alienation and distrust. However, multiple regression analysis fails to support the hypothesis that television viewing has a direct, substantial effect on fear of crime.
- Kenneth Dowler, “Media Consumption and Public Attitudes Toward Crime and Justice: The Relationship Between Fear of Crime, Punitive Attitudes, and Perceived Police Effectiveness”, Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture, 10(2) (2003) pp.109-110.
- Violence shouldn't be presented as drama. I think people looking for an easy way out often write scenes where characters come into violent conflict as opposed to looking for the true drama in the situation. That's a shortcoming of a lot of films and television shows. I think certain presentations of violence are not immoral, but amoral.
- I find it amoral if you're making a movie where the problem is solved with a guy standing in the back of a pickup truck firing a machine gun at the bad guys. The morality of it is questionable because the repercussions of violence are incredibly far-reaching.
- There is always a point at which the terrorist ceases to manipulate the media gestalt. A point at which the violence may well escalate, but beyond which the terrorist has become symptomatic of the media gestalt itself. Terrorism as we ordinarily understand it is innately media-related.
- Research on women in print advertisements has shown that pictures of women's bodies and body parts ("body-isms") appear more often than pictures of men's bodies. Men's faces ("face-isms") are photographed more often than their bodies. This present study is the first to confirm this finding for television commercials. Results showed that men appear twice as often as women in beer commercials. The body-isms of women significantly outnumbered the body-isms of men. Women also appeared in swimwear more often than men, thus increasing the photo opportunities for body-isms. This study raises concerns about the dehumanizing influence of these images in beer commercials, and their association with alcohol use and the violence in the televised sporting events during which beer commercials are frequently aired.
- Hall, C. C. I., Crum, M. (1994). "Women and “body-isms” in television beer commercials", Sex Roles, 31, p. 329.
- As I sat in my office last evening, waiting to speak, I thought of the many times each week when television brings the war into the American home. No one can say exactly what effect those vivid scenes have on American opinion. Historians must only guess at the effect that television would have had during earlier conflicts on the future of this Nation during the Korean war, for example, at that time when our forces were pushed back there to Pusan or World War II, the Battle of the Bulge, or when our men were slugging it our in Europe or when most of our Air Force was shot down that day in June 1942 off Australia.
- The hypothesis that media violence increases aggressive behavior has been widely studied in experimental research looking at the short-term effects of exposure to violent media stimuli, as well as in cross-sectional and longitudinal studies relating habitual media violence exposure to individual differences in the readiness to show aggressive behavior. Although there is disagreement among some researchers as to whether or not the evidence currently available supports the view that media violence exposure is a risk factor for aggression (Huesmann & Taylor, 2003), most meta-analyses and reviews have reported substantial effect sizes across different media, methodologies, and outcome variables, suggesting that exposure to violent media contents increases the likelihood of aggressive behavior in the short term as well as over time (e.g., Anderson et al., 2003; Bushman & Huesmann, 2006; Huesmann, 1982; Huesmann & Kirwil, 2007; Murray, 2008; Paik & Comstock, 1994). Other authors have questioned both the strength of the evidence and its implications (e.g., Ferguson, 2007; Savage & Yancey, 2008). Ferguson and Kilburn (2009, 2010) concluded from their meta-analysis that there was no support for the claim that media violence increases aggressive behavior. However, they acknowledged that experimental studies using proxy measures of aggression did produce substantive effect sizes and were relatively unaffected by publication bias, and their conclusions have been vigorously disputed by others (Anderson et al., 2010; Bushman, Rothstein, & Anderson, 2010; Huesmann, 2010).
- Several studies have shown that in the long run, habitual exposure to media violence may reduce anxious arousal in response to depictions of violence. Research has found that the more time individuals spent watching violent media depictions, the less emotionally responsive they became to violent stimuli (e.g., Averill, Malstrom, Koriat, & Lazarus, 1972) and the less sympathy they showed for victims of violence in the real world (e.g., Mullin & Linz, 1995). Bartholow, Bushman, and Sestir (2006) used event-related brain potential data (ERPs) to compare responses by violent and nonviolent video game users to violent stimuli and relate them to subsequent aggressive responses in a laboratory task. Bartholow et al. found that the more violent games participants played habitually, the less brain activity they showed in response to violent pictures and the more aggressively they behaved in the subsequent task. In a series of studies with children age 5 to 12, Funk and colleagues demonstrated that habitual usage of violent video games was associated with reduced empathy with others in need of help (Funk, Baldacci, Pasold, & Baumgardner, 2004; Funk, Buchman, Jenks, & Bechtoldt, 2003).
- An alternative perspective on the relationship between anxious and pleasant arousal may be derived from the general aggression model extended by Carnagey et al. (2007), to include desensitization. They argued that because repeated exposure to media violence reduces the anxiety reaction to violence, new presentations of violence “instigate different cognitive and affective reactions than would have occurred in the absence of desensitization” (p. 491). One such affective reaction may be a positive response to violence that would otherwise have been inhibited by anxious arousal. Huesmann and Kirwil (2007) have called this process sensitization. They argued that, for some individuals, watching violence is enjoyable, and, whereas it may provoke anger, it does not produce anxious arousal. On the contrary, the more such individuals watch violence, the more they like watching it. They are experiencing a “sensitization” of positive feelings. Because finding violence pleasant is incompatible with experiencing anxious arousal, increased pleasant arousal to depictions of violence in individuals with a high exposure to media violence would constitute indirect evidence of desensitization of “negative feelings” about violence. On the basis of this line of reasoning, we propose that anxious arousal by violent media stimuli is negatively related to pleasant arousal and that habitual exposure to media violence should both decrease negative emotional reactions and increase positive emotional reactions to violence, though the increase in positive emotions may occur for only a subset of individuals. For example, in a recent study of young adults in Poland, Kirwil (2008) found that proactively aggressive individuals tended to respond to violent media stimuli with a reduction in anxious arousal, whereas reactively aggressive individuals tended to respond with an increase in enjoyment.
- Barbara Krahé, Ingrid Möller, L. Rowell Huesmann, Lucyna Kirwil, Juliane Felber, and Anja Berger, “Desensitization to Media Violence: Links With Habitual Media Violence Exposure, Aggressive Cognitions, and Aggressive Behavior”, J Pers Soc Psychol. 2011 Apr; 100(4): 630–646.
- Something strange is happening at America’s colleges and universities. A movement is arising, undirected and driven largely by students, to scrub campuses clean of words, ideas, and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offense. Last December, Jeannie Suk wrote in an online article for The New Yorker about law students asking her fellow professors at Harvard not to teach rape law—or, in one case, even use the word violate (as in “that violates the law”) lest it cause students distress.
- Trigger warnings are alerts that professors are expected to issue if something in a course might cause a strong emotional response. For example, some students have called for warnings that Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart describes racial violence and that F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby portrays misogyny and physical abuse, so that students who have been previously victimized by racism or domestic violence can choose to avoid these works, which they believe might “trigger” a recurrence of past trauma.
- The idea that words (or smells or any sensory input) can trigger searing memories of past trauma—and intense fear that it may be repeated—has been around at least since World War I, when psychiatrists began treating soldiers for what is now called post-traumatic stress disorder. But explicit trigger warnings are believed to have originated much more recently, on message boards in the early days of the Internet. Trigger warnings became particularly prevalent in self-help and feminist forums, where they allowed readers who had suffered from traumatic events like sexual assault to avoid graphic content that might trigger flashbacks or panic attacks.
- The expansive use of trigger warnings may also foster unhealthy mental habits in the vastly larger group of students who do not suffer from PTSD or other anxiety disorders. People acquire their fears not just from their own past experiences, but from social learning as well. If everyone around you acts as though something is dangerous—elevators, certain neighborhoods, novels depicting racism—then you are at risk of acquiring that fear too. The psychiatrist Sarah Roff pointed this out last year in an online article for The Chronicle of Higher Education. “One of my biggest concerns about trigger warnings,” Roff wrote, “is that they will apply not just to those who have experienced trauma, but to all students, creating an atmosphere in which they are encouraged to believe that there is something dangerous or damaging about discussing difficult aspects of our history.”
- In an article published last year by Inside Higher Ed, seven humanities professors wrote that the trigger-warning movement was “already having a chilling effect on [their] teaching and pedagogy.” They reported their colleagues’ receiving “phone calls from deans and other administrators investigating student complaints that they have included ‘triggering’ material in their courses, with or without warnings.” A trigger warning, they wrote, “serves as a guarantee that students will not experience unexpected discomfort and implies that if they do, a contract has been broken.” When students come to expect trigger warnings for any material that makes them uncomfortable, the easiest way for faculty to stay out of trouble is to avoid material that might upset the most sensitive student in the class.
- Greg Lukianoff, Jonathan Haidt, "The Coddling of the American Mind", The Atlantic, (September 2016).
- There are one or two rules of thumb which are useful in distinguishing sadism from exciting adventure in the comics. Threat of torture is harmless, but when the torture it’s self is shown it becomes sadism. When a lovely heroine is show bound to the stake, comics followers are sure that the rescue will arrive just in the nick of time. The readers wish is to save the girl, not to see her suffer. A bound or chained person does not suffer even embarrassment in the comics, and the reader, therefore is not being taught to enjoy suffering.
- Huey: Why don’t they go after the gun manufacturers and gun dealers instead of people who make video games, it doesn’t make sense. ...
- Riley: Who would you rather start a beef with – some nerd who makes video games, or some dude with a warehouse full of AK-47s?
- As regards the female characters thing, I'm afraid I think it's giving male creators a bum deal. The list does read pretty shocking at first until you think of everything the male heroes have gone through, too, in terms of deaths/mutilations/etc. Granted, the female stuff has more of a sexual violence theme and this is something people should probably watch out for, but rape is a rare thing in comics and is seldom done in an exploitative way.
- Why should murder be so over-represented in our popular fiction, and crimes of a sexual nature so under-represented? Surely it cannot be because rape is worse than murder, and is thus deserving of a special unmentionable status. Surely, the last people to suggest that rape was worse than murder were the sensitively reared classes of the Victorian era … And yet, while it is perfectly acceptable (not to say almost mandatory) to depict violent and lethal incidents in lurid and gloating high-definition detail, this is somehow regarded as healthy and perfectly normal, and it is the considered depiction of sexual crimes that will inevitably attract uproars of the current variety.
- As for some characters being dead and then alive again -- that happens to both genders in comics. Look at Wonder Man. The thing that, to my mind, separates the male and female characters are the sex crimes. Only the female characters are victims of sex crimes; male characters are never subjected to that. (There may be one or two exceptions when the male character was sexually abused as a child, but that's about it.) It is the number and frequency of THAT which troubles me. (...) A female soldier in battle may suffer wounds; that's different than a woman being stalked, kidnapped, and having violence done to her in civilian life. The former incurs the physical damage because of her occupation; the latter, strictly because of her gender. A female cop may be shot because she is a cop, not because she is a female. That, to me, is part of the difference.
- For example, violent video games, television, films, and music have all been found to affect aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behavior (Anderson et al., 2003; 2010), while the introduction of television itself to a rural area of Nepal significantly affected residents' attitudes and behaviors regarding family issues (e.g., contraceptive use; Barber & Axinn, 2004). However, not all media are expected to have the same effects on beliefs and behavior. Intuitively, it seems to follow that media content should tend to influence beliefs that are relevant to that particular content. For example, watching television crime drama is related to oppositional attitudes toward gun control (Dowler, 2002). Similarly, viewing genres of film or television that focus on relationships (e.g., romantic comedies) is associated with idealistic relationship expectations (Segrin & Nabi, 2002). As a final example, watching shows with paranormal content is associated with paranormal beliefs (Tseng, Tsai, Hsieh, Hung, & Huang, 2014). Each of these examples illustrates how specific content is associated with specific attitudes in ways that are consistent with the content. Media may influence attitudes as disparate as our perception of aggression and paranormal beliefs, so there is reason to believe that media may also influence sexist attitudes.
- Stephen Reysen, Iva Katzarska-Miller, Courtney N. Plante, Sharon E. Roberts, Kathleen C. Gerbasi, "Examination of Anime Content and Associations between Anime Consumption, Genre Preferences, and Ambivalent Sexism", The Phoenix Papers, Vol. 3, No. 1, (August 2017).
- Gerbner and his colleagues further propose that compared to light television viewers, heavy television viewers are more likely to perceive the world in ways that more closely mirror reality as presented on television than more objective measures of social reality, regardless of the specific programs or genres viewed (Herbner & Gross, 1976).
Although the complete range of cultivation indicators has not yet been specified (Potter, 1993), individual researchers have tested the cultivation hypothesis in a variety of contexts, including racism (e.g., Gerbner, Gross, Morgan, & Signorielli, 1982; Morgan, 1986), alientation (e.g., Morgan, 1986) and gender stereotypes (Gross & Jeffries-Fox, 1978). However, the most studied issue in the extant cultivation literature is the prevalence of violence on television and its effects on perceptions of real-world incidence of crime and victimization (see review in Potter, 1993). Numerous content analyses of network television programs have demonstrated that the number of violent acts on U.S. television greatly exceeds the amount of real-world violence (Gerbner & Gross, 1976; Gerbner et al., 1977). In turn, research by Gerbner and his colleagues has shown that heavy television viewers: (A) overestimate the incidence of serious crime in our society, and (B) are more likely to believe that the world is a mean place where people cannot be trusted (i.e., the “mean world” syndrome; e.g., Gerbner et al., 1994).
- Chris Segrin, Robin L. Nabi, “Does Television Viewing Cultivate Unrealistic Expectations About Marriage?”, in Journal of Communication 52(2): June 2002, p. 249
- By the time Spidey came on, there was a LOT of censorship at Fox. They were having whole countries like Canada ban some of their shows (Power Rangers, for instance) and they were very nervous about violence. When I watch the older episodes of Batman that first aired on Fox, they do all kinds of things that we couldn't do. By the time Spidey came on, Fox wouldn't let us do anything like that. No fists to the face, no realistic guns, no fire, no crashing through glass, no children in peril, no mention of the words death, die, or kill."
- John Semper, "Interview With John Semper", DRG4; as qtd in Jack Beresford, "18 Things You Didn't Know About Spider-Man: The Animated Series", (July 31, 2017).
- Watching violence in movies or in TV programs stimulates the spectators to imitate what they see much more than if seen live or on TV news. In movies, violence is filmed with perfect illumination, spectacular scenery, and in slow motion, making it even romantic. However, in the news, the public has a much better perception of how horrible violence can be, and it is used with objectives that do not exist in the movies.
- The gaming industry has come under increased scrutiny following the December 2012 shootings in Newtown, Connecticut — a tragedy that has reignited the debate surrounding gun control and violent media. Vice President Joe Biden discussed the issue with game industry leaders earlier this year, while the National Rifle Association has taken a more pointed approach, singling out video games as a driver of violent culture. After the Newtown shooting, NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre described the gaming industry as "a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people."
- Amar Toor, “EA will no longer pay gun makers for the right to depict weapons in games”, The Verge, (May 8, 2013).
- Over the past decade, anti-women communities on the internet — ranging from “Men's rights movement” forums and incels to “pickup artists” — have grown exponentially. While these movements differ in small ways, what they have in common is an organized hatred of women; the animus is so pronounced that the hate-watch group Southern Poverty Law Center tracks their actions.
The other dangerous idea that connects these men is their shared belief that women — good-looking women, in particular — owe them sexual attention. The incel community that Mr. Minassian paid homage to, for example, was banned from Reddit last year because, among other issues, some adherents advocated rape as a means to end their celibacy.
- Feminists have been warning against these online hate groups and their propensity for real-life violence for over a decade. I know because I’m one of the people who has been issuing increasingly dire warnings. After I started a feminist blog in 2004, I became a target of men’s-rights groups who were angry with women about everything from custody battles to the false notion that most women lie about rape. In 2011, I had to flee my house with my young daughter on the advice of law enforcement, because one of these groups put me on a “registry” of women to target.
- Not every attack is preventable, but the misogyny that drives them is. To stop all of this, we must trust women when they point out that receiving streams of death threats on Twitter is not normal and that online communities strategizing about how to rape women are much more than just idle chatter. There is no reason another massacre should happen.