Watching violence in movies increases the risk of some people’s acting aggressively. Many people have problems linking media violence with violence in real-life. Only small percentages that watch violence are responsible for violent acts. Most people unaffected by it. Even though doctors, lawyers, juries, and judges cannot establish a direct link between media violence with violence in society, they still can make conclusions from data.
Media violence is one thing that causes people to do violence. Since media violence is much more vicious than that which children normally experience, real-life aggression appears bland by comparison. Children do not always realize this is not the way things are handled in real-life. They come to expect it, and when they do not see it the world becomes bland and in need of violence. The children then can create the violence that their mind craves (Door 127).
Another thing that increases the risk of violence is watching another person praising it. Parents who solve their problems with violence are teaching their children to do the same. Barbara Escamilla, an Omaha counselor and social worker, said, “Fathers who laugh and cheer at violent action movies are condoning such actions….” Another counselor from Omaha said, “If a kid hears his dad laughing about having beat somebody up when he was 13, then that father is creating an underlying philosophy in the family.” Joseph Stankus, an Omaha psychologist, said, “If sombody doesn’t show any regard for the results of violence, then maybe you give it to them” (qtd. in Nelson np).
Watching violence and listening to others talk about violence can lead to aggression. Some places are more admissible of aggression than others. Aggressive behavior was more acceptable in the city, where a child’s popularity rating with classmates was not hampered by his or her aggression. In bigger cities, crime and violence are inevitable, expected, and therefore, are left unchecked and out of line. In other research among U.S. children, it was discovered that aggression, academic problems, unpopularity with peers, and violence feed off each other. This promotes violent behavior in the children. A child watches violence without evening knowing that it could lead to aggression (Huesmann 166).
Many studies have taken place over the years to see to see effects on violence were. In a CNN News broadcast, Lisa Price and the Associated Press speak some studies. The first one was an eight-year by Doctor Brandon Centerwall of the University of Washington. Statistics from this study show that “long-term exposure of children to television violence has led to an increase of an extra ten thousand homicides a year in the U.S.. The American Medical Association found that violent crime between the years 1976 and 1992 among 13 and 17 year-old teenagers rose 106 percent, and the violence in the media had something to do with it (np).
Another study revealed that people… “are more prone to hold attitudes that favor violence and aggression as a way of solving conflicts.” These viewers also tend to be less trusting of people and more prone to see the world as a hostile place. A Massachusetts study states, “There is a relationship between viewing media violence and the acceptance of sexual assault, violence and alcohol use. As a result, specific levels of
violence become more acceptable over time. Then, it takes more and more graphic violence to shock (and hold) an audience” (Rund np).
In an experiment on television violence on memory for commercial messages, participants saw commercials embedded in violent and nonviolent film clips. After viewing clips, participants completed several recall and recognition memory test. In all the experiments, participants who saw a violent film clip had poorer memory for commercial than did participants who saw nonviolent film clips. Participants also reported their mood after viewing a film clip but before completing the memory tests. Anger mediated between television violence and commercial memory. Television violence increased anger, and anger, in turn, impaired memory for commercials (Bushman np).
Over the years, violence in movies has influenced people so much that crimes have been committed. These crimes have been brought to court, even to the Supreme Court. The Georgia Supreme Court ruled that extremely violent movie, such as, “Natural Born Killers” and “Menace II [sic] Society” is permitted to be watched by the jury in murder trials. The reason behind this is to prove defendants were inspired by Hollywood to commit real mayhem. Greg Torre, director of Georgia Film and Video Commission, said, “This ruling does not sit with me well. If an individual is going to commit a crime, I do not think it takes a movie to do it.” Justice Norman Fletcher wrote dissents to both rulings, saying, “Violence in movies is prejudicial and unnecessary in light of corroborating evidence. The movie thus served as a dramatic state witness who blurred fact and fiction but who wasn’t subject to cross-examination” (Rakin np).
In another trial, Justice Harris Hines wrote in a four to three decision upholding a Worth County murder conviction, “Evidence of a movie in a criminal defendant’s possession that depicts the conduct with which the defendant is charged may be admissible.” During the Worth County trial, the jury watched “Menace II [sic] Society.” The defendant owned this movie and watched it at least six times. “The film opens with ‘O-Dog’ fatally shooting two convenience store clerks and taking the store’s surveillance videotape. Gerald Rushin shot and killed a store clerk in 1995 and took the surveillance tape” (Rakin np). Later, the surveillance tape was used to rebut Rushin’s argument that the fatality was accidental. The trial’s judge said, “The real purpose of the movie was to provide a more explicit visual picture of the state’s theory that Rushin committed crimes similar to the movie’s crimes” (Rakin np).
In the film “Natural Born Killers,” fifty-two people are killed by a man and his girlfriend on a three month killing spree. Ronnie Jack Beasley Jr. and his girlfriend have seen this movie about twenty times. Beasley was put in trial for a murder committed in a robbery in 1995. He sometimes called himself “The Natural.” The jury of this case watched this film during the trial. Professor Robert Pugsley of Southwestern University School of Law in Los Angeles said, “The visceral impact that one experiences in seeing a mindless, bloodthirsty film like ‘Natural Born Killers’ can have a far-reaching, inflammatory impact. You are a truly monstrous example, a caricature, and showing this person kill fifty-two while asking the jury to convict the defendant of one. This constitutes overkill” (qtd. in Rakin np).
In another court case, Eric Jeleniewski, 20, and his two friends, James Grant, and Christopher Doucette, were put on trial for the murders of Kimberly Farrah, 18, and Leeann Millius, 17. The day of the killings, the three friends had no money and no place to stay, so they decided to go to Leeann’s house unannounced. James told police that Eric asked him and the girls to play a game based on the “comic horror” movie “Scream.” Those playing the game would act out scenes from the movie in which two teenage boys kill teenage girls and others in their town for no reason. “The thrill of the chase” was not enough for Erin. He decided to go after what he saw was “the ultimate kick,” killing a person (Murphy np). Several hours after playing “Scream,” Eric kicked and stabbed Kimberly to death. At Eric’s orders, James and Christopher stabbed Leeann to death a while later. On October 26, 1998, the jury of this case, after eight and one half-hours deliberation, to find Eric guilty of killing Kimberly, they convicted him with first-degree murder (Murphy np).
With all these movies leading people to aggression, violence, and murder, the American Medical Association says, “Destructive behavior in real life follows television and movie violence like night and day” (qtd. in Price np). Since then, they have released guidelines to help doctors talk to parents about viewing habits. Each state’s attorney general along with 60,000 doctors received pamphlets with all the information on it. Also, they are pressuring the entertainment industry to do something about it. The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) disregards all the criticism coming their
way. “Broadcasters and programmers have voluntarily agreed to rate every program not only for violent content, but also for other objectionable material. The limiting of children’s exposure to violent programming will help stop the spread of violence on the street,” the NAB said in a statement (qtd. in Price np). Some psychologists and psychiatrists believe that continued exposure to violence might unnaturally speed up the impact of the adult world on the child. As these children mature, they can become bewildered, have a greater distrust towards others, a superficial approach to problems, and even an unwillingness to become an adult (Carter np). Some counselors say, “As children become older, age-appropriate television, movies, and news can begin to be used as learning moments” (qtd. in Nelson np). Every November a day is set aside for TURN OFF THE VIOLENCE. The Minnesota Citizen’s Counsel on Crime and Justice founded this. They said, “Celebrating a day of non-violence helps give individuals and communities an opportunity to reaffirm positive healthy attitudes and actions, and take a positive step for change” (qtd. in “You Can Make A Difference” np). They say that parents should sit down with their children and discuss a film they have watched together to help decrease a violent imagination.
Violence does have an effect on some young children and young adults. The studies in this paper proved that violence has a variety of effects on people. Cases have been brought to court relating to movie violence and their effects. People have been murdered without a worthy cause like for fun. Some things are being done to make an awareness of this violence, such as, TURN OFF THE VIOLENCE day and censorship.
What is happening now will continue to happen in the future if people do not try to help.
Bushman, Brad J., “Effects of Television Violence on Memory for Commercial Messages.” Journal of Experimental Psychology Vol.4, No.4(Dec. 1998): 6 pp. On-line. Internet. 2 Feb. 1999. Available WWW: http://www.apa.org/journals/xap/xap44291.html.
Carter, Douglas. T.V. Violence and the Child. New York: Russel Sage Foundation, 1977.
Husemann, L. Rowell. “Social Channels Tune TV’s Effects”. Science News. 14 Sept. 1985: 166.
Murphy, Bill. “Killer Gets Life, No Parole: ‘Take Him Out,’ Disgusted Judge Says.” The Eagle Tribune. 27 Oct., 1998. C.D. Newsbank.
Nelson, Robert. “Should violence Be Kid’s Stuff? Midlands Counselor Say Children Are Unable to Deal with the Significance of Graphic Films Such As “Saving Private Ryan.”” Omaha World-Herald. 28 July, 1998: 29sf. C.D. Newsbank.
Price, Lisa and Associated Press. “Parents Must Ration TV to Cut Teen-Age Violence: Prescription from the Nation’s Doctors.” CNN News. (9 Sept. 1996). On-line. Internet. 3 Feb 1999. Available: http://ww2.cnn.com/HEALTH/9609/09/nfm/ama.violence/
Rakin, Bill. “Court: Let Jury See Film Violence. Movies Admissible to Reflect ‘bent of Mind.’” The Atlanta Journal and the Atlanta Constitution. 14 July, 1998: A01. C.D. Newsbank.