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Violence in the Media

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Many classmates lie on the floor, dead. Their innocent, hopeful lives were taken, like so many others in the countless school shootings that have occurred. Flared by uncontrollable violent emotions and encouraged by violent media, the violent killers have struck, taking many lives. Now, everyone will pay. In the Columbine shooting, the dangerous effects of the tons of violent media plastered everywhere is evident. The two horrible killers played countless hours of violent video games, leading them to the dreadful plotting of their extremely devastating shooting. When shooting occurred, it was clear from the guns they used to the strategies of killing they used where they obtained their inspiration from Their violent video games. Clearly, violence in the media does contribute to the violence in society.

Since celebrities are very commonly idolized, it is very likely people will imitate their idols, even to the point of acting out violently. Mary Gavin admits, "Many violent acts are perpetrated by the "good guys" whom kids have been taught to emulate. Even though kids are taught by their parents that it isn't right to hit, television says it's okay to bite, kick, or hit if you're the "good guy."" Like Mary states, these violent acts are usually directed at the "bad guy," it is very easy to apply the "good guy's" solution to their own lives. When the solution that the "good guy" uses involves violent material, media consumers are encouraged to commit these violent acts themselves just because their role models say it is okay to. This greatly affects the role of violence in our society when these "good guys" start being compared to horrible, violent role models. On the same note, there has been a noticeable increase in copy- cat crimes over the years (Parents Television Council). Although it may seem somewhat typical for people to try to imitate their favorite media idol, the extent of what people will do in attempt to accomplish this is astonishing. Due to the increasing desire to become known, copy- cat crimes have increased dramatically. Many media consumers believe that if a star is shoved into the spotlight for abusing their families or committing murder, then that's what they must do to become a famous icon too. This common belief is what leads the average celebrity want- to- be into acting out violently, despite the morals that they're been taught. Through evidence provided, one can confidently conclude that the desire to be known will drive one to imitate their violent idols too by acting out violently.

Violence in the media also creates a false reality and a false confidence in weapon handling, encouraging media consumers to commit violent acts. In "Violence on TV: The Desensitizing of America" it is shocking to discover that a staggering 73% of criminals go unpunished in crimes on TV (Szaflik). Considering the fact that Americans watch an average of four hours of television a day, television has a huge impact in the way our country thinks and acts. Since so many criminals do go unpunished in TV crimes, it is very easy for people to create a wall of ignorance between themselves and the real consequences true crimes bring. For example, instead of being thrown in jail, many will expect to get away smoothly just because that's how the media portrays criminals. This false sense of consequences encourages media consumers to commit violent acts because they truly believe that the punishment and consequences are nonexistent. Ed Donnerstein of UCSB also contributes to the idea of a false reality by stating, "When you show a young kid somebody being run over and they pop back up without harm, that's a problem" (Szaflik). This quote also shows how damaging the false reality created by media can be- this time in relation to kids. Violence on television can be the most harmful to youth because they are the most vulnerable and have the least amount of knowledge of the real world. This lack of sense in the real world makes them very gullible and puts them in a position to tend to believe everything displayed on the media... Including the false realities of the many acts of violence that pop up everywhere. When these children see this falseness in reality on television, like a person being uninjured by a car collision, they are led to believe that violent acts do cause little or no harm. This common, but false, interpretation is what directs kids into committing violent acts. Also, interestingly enough, the killers at Columbine always played violent video games (Olson). Since violent video games capture our surroundings in such a realistic quality, it is very easy for the "gun men" playing these games to feel as if they are really there on the battlefield. The realistic situations and rewards given to player when they kill a certain amount of men unfortunately allows players to develop a confidence in their gun handling skills. With this newfound, undeserved confidence, shooters are pressured to use their skills in real life and commit violent acts. From TV crimes to Columbine shootings, it is clear how violent media can create a deceiving false reality and confidence in gun handling, leading many to commit violent acts.

Since violent media has been proven to make people feel very aggressive, those who watch much of this media are more likely to abuse this emotion and commit violent acts. For example, when a secluded mountain range had television for the first time, the hitting, biting, and shoving levels of the children increased by 160% ("Children and Television Violence"). The drastic change in aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors after viewing violent media is very clear in situations like these when the feeling of new rage is so evident. The build up of these unsafe and aggressive emotions as a result of violent media needs to be released somehow- just like feelings such as stress and depression. The majority of the time, this release can be found in carrying out violent acts like those seen on the original provider of the violent emotions- hence the increase in hitting, biting, and shoving. Similarly, Rowell Huesmann claimed in one of his studies that "59% of those who watched an above average amount of violence on television as children were involved in more than average numbers of aggressive incidents later in life" ("Children and Television Violence"). Although the many studies that concentrate on the violent acts committed directly after/ shortly following the media seem to conclude that the aggressive effects are only short term, this study begs to differ. Here the media choices made as children caused them to develop the usual effects of aggressive behavior, which combined with even more violent media choices, resulted in a huge lash out of serious, life threatening aggressive emotions through violent acts later in life. In addition to this, Dr. L. Rowell Huesmann from the University of Michigan claims, "Every exposure to violence increases the chance that someday a child will behave more violently" ("Children and Television Violence"). Seeing that violent media is proven to produce both short and long-term violent effects, it is only logical that the more violent media that is viewed will result in a greater probability that violent acts will be committed by the viewer. Basically, with every exposure to violent media there is, the more aggressive emotions are formed. When these emotions get to the point when the media consumer is forced to act out violently due to the build up of these emotions, every act of violence viewed counts. After acknowledging all this evidence, it is easy to see how viewing violent media and the long and short-term effects of the aggressive emotions formed leading to violent acts are connected.

For individual safety, the safety of loved ones, and even the overall safety of the country, the people must stand united against the violence in the media. Violence in the media does contribute to violence in society, and will continue to if something doesn't stop it. This growing amount of violence in the media is affecting innocent viewers, creating this such as dangerous false realities and an undeserved serve of confidence in gun handling, both of which make a viewer oblivious and unconnected enough to the real world to lead them to commit violent acts. Along with the dangerous falsehoods being created, aggressive emotions run high, leading many to have no choice but to lash out and rid themselves of aggressive emotions. Also, hazardous idolization of horrible, violent media figures are created, resulting in imitation of violent acts. A combination of any of these side effects of violent media can and will lead many to commit violent acts themselves. In order to stop this violence in society, the source of the violence must be cut- the violence in the media. To do this, everybody must pitch in and create a huge pool of effort. This pool can be easily created by small acts of prevention such as simply flipping the channel when violent media comes on, preventing youth's exposure to the media, and even just resisting the urge to buy the latest violent video game. Time is short, and every act of violent prevention counts. Do your part today before time runs out.



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