Violence in the Media

As usual, I started this post off on LiveJournal with their “Writer’s Block Question of the Day.”  It’s not the first time I’ve cross-posted because of the thing.

The question is:

Do you believe that violence in media promotes violence in real life? Does media reflect cultural values or can it actively reshape them?

Okay, I’ve answered questions like this before.  Let me answer the second question first.

I think, more often than not, media reflects changing cultural values.  It helps to reshape them, taking the new values and spreading them to a wider audience, but all in all I think they reflect the changing views of society as a whole.  As the sexual revolution hit, and sexuality in general was becoming more accepted, media reflected that.  Same thing with feminist ideals, race relations, and more recently, the way we feel about being a certain age and the fun that we’re supposed to be having.

Now for the first question.

Media doesn’t promote violence.  Media, in all it’s forms, is simply entertainment.  And, as a changing cultural value, society has become more acceptable of violence and the media show it.  Whether it’s music, video games, movies or something else.  It is simply fantasy.  Nothing more than simple entertainment.

We need to STOP blaming media for violence and START with the people who influence our ideas and values in the tender young stages: parents.

I firmly believe that it is a parent’s job, NOT to censor and keep us away from violent media, but to teach us that what we see on TV or in a video game is NOT REAL.  That it is fantasy and fiction and that these things can’t happen in real life.

Obviously this isn’t going to stop all behavior problems.  But I think it would help.  When you punish a child for being violent in real life, they learn that violence in real life ends with bad things, and that what they see and hear isn’t the truth.  I think you’d have a lot less people trying to re-enact stuff on TV and the like if they had informed and active parents.  Those parent who want to blame media should blame themselves for not being more involved in their child’s life.  That’s what would help.

As you can see, I have sort of an issue with thinking that media is responsible for behavior.  On a scientific level, in some cases this is true.  Media does indeed influence how we think and how we behave.  We see what they show us and we think we can do the same things.  Especially to minds that are malleable, this can have a big impact.  Little children like to imitate what they see because it’s how they learn.  Teenagers think it’s cool and they think they’re indestructible anyway so it seems like an even better idea.

But rather than setting government limitations on media and making children into criminals, maybe we should place a higher emphasis on parents.  Getting them involved and getting them to do what a parent is supposed to do.  We’re so concerned with keeping kids from things, not letting them experience anything that we don’t like and keeping them busy with activities we always wanted them to do.  Yet we don’t care how they think and feel and what they want to do.  We brush them aside and let TV raise them and wonder how they turned out so violent and angry and depressed.  We wonder how they aren’t magically happy.

Well, we need to take an interest in their lives and make them feel loved and safe, like they can come to us for anything without judgment.  Maybe then we wouldn’t have Columbines and the rashes of gay kids killing themselves.  Maybe bullying wouldn’t have gotten to be the problem that it is.

I realize that this won’t eliminate all crime and the like, but it might have an impact.

“You can’t change the world, but you can make a dent.” – Sheldon Mopes (Death to Smoochy)

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~ by ladyruby07 on November 17, 2010.

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