Violence in the Media
America has become the most violent nation in the industrialized world. The many violent images seen in movies and on television on a daily basis, though not the only cause, are a strong contributing factor.
There are those that feel the point-of-view from which the audience views the violence varies directly with the way the scene affects them. A film's perspective determines the audience's reaction. In "slasher" films, for example, the point of view shifts between the attacker and the victim. So the audience feels the terror of the victim and the lust of the victimizer. If the viewer shares the experience with the victim they feel helplessness, fear, and also the rage that comes with being attacked. However, when the viewer is allowed to share the experience of the attacker the perspective is different, they get the sense of power and being in control.
In many sexual assault scenes the camera focuses on the victim's face, which puts the viewer in the position of the rapist. What is of concern is that many Americans want to identify with the powerful attacker. It can be argued whether or not this is a direct cause of imitative violence but it, with out a doubt, offers viewers the vicarious experience of violence related to sex. (Censorship, 1985)
Television does not make people commit crimes, but it provides the ideas, social sanction, and often the instruction that encourages anti-social behavior according to Madeline Levine, psychologist. (Viewing Violence, 1996)
Dr. Jib Fowles, a researcher from the University of Houston would disagree. He testified to the U.S. Congress that TV violence was a good way to relieve tension. Dr. Radecki strongly disagreed saying that "Fowles has never done a single psychological or aggression research study in his life...No aggression researcher alive today supports the long-disproved catharsis theory." (Censorship, 1985)
One of hundreds of studies done on this topic was The National Television Violence Study; a three-year research project funded by the National Cable Television Association issued in 1996. The study involved efforts from media scholars from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill among other schools. The study found that violence is often presented in ways that could harm viewers. Perpetrators go unpunished in 73% of all violent scenes. This should be of great concern because when violence is presented without punishment, and oftentimes with rewards, viewers are more likely to learn that violence is successful. In addition to the perpetrators going unpunished, in 47% of violent scenes no harm is actually shown to the victim. In 58% of scenes no pain is shown. In only 16% of programs that portray violence the long-term negative affects such as psychological, financial, and emotional harm are shown. There are programs that show violence but emphasize an anti-violence theme by condemning the violence. Sadly these are a rarity, only accounting for 4%...