Violence in the Media Essay

Violence In The Media Essay

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One of the hottest and most controversial topics in America today is violence in the media. Violence is everywhere in the media nowadays, there is no denying that. Whether it be movies, television, video games, or music, there will always be violence, but blaming the media is not the answer. If one is to place the blame, it should be placed on the parents of these children who decide to become violent. Parents need to take a more active role in what their children watch, play, and listen to so that they do not end up becoming violent themselves. Violence in the media was always a hot issue, but never more so than last year. On April 20, 1999, two students at Columbine High School, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, went on a murderous rampage that culminated in the deaths of 23 students and then the suicide of both Klebold and Harris. Following the incident, many people were quick to point the finger at the media as the main reason that the two boys went on their rampage. To add more fuel to that fire, it was later revealed that, in a video the two boys made before the massacre, they foretold that the incident would be like the video game Doom and they even questioned which Hollywood director would be the first to immortalize them on-screen. "These revelations embarrassed Hollywood ‘entertainment’ producers, who have vehemently denied they have any effect on youths, or that their products are linked to the increased vulgarity and violence of American society" (Gale Group 12). One issue that was not brought up that much during the whole incident was where their parents were during all this. Klebold and Harris had guns and grenades, so how were their parents unaware of what was going on? The parents should have known beforehand that their children were perhaps a little unstable and that they might be up to something. If they had taken a more active interest in the lives of their children, in all likelihood, the incident never would have happened. Two major opponents of violence in the media recently have been Arizona Senator and former Republican presidential candidate John McCain and Connecticut Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman. They recently introduced an act called the Media Violence Labeling Act of 2000. "This requires a uniform labeling system for all movies, music products, and video games" (Melillo 21). Warning labels would also be necessary for all violent media products, including advertising under this proposed act. McCain flat-out said that, "There is a consensus in the scientific community that exposure to violent images through the media is harmful to kids" (Melillo 21). Wendy Melillo, author of "Moral Posturing," an article in ADWEEK New England Advertising Week writes that McCain’s statement is news to almost everyone, since what he said is not a proven fact. The McCain-Lieberman bill is careful not to define violent media content, which means that it would be left up to the entertainment industry to create the rating system and place it on content that they deem to be violent. "In other words, politicians will let the very industry they assail police itself" (Melillo 21). A bill like the McCain-Lieberman bill gives the government a good amount of extra power, and Hal Shoup, the executive vice president of the American Association of Advertising Agencies, questions, "How much is enough government information?" (Melillo 21). Wendy Melillo thinks that the parents, not the government, should be the dominant force in determining what children can and can not watch. It should not just be about politics as usual. Like Melillo says, "Let’s start with parents teaching morality to children, not slicing and dicing the First Amendment" (21). Recently, rapper Eminem has come into controversy concerning his latest album, The Marshall Mathers LP, which has sold almost eight million copies in the United States. His profane album contains violence towards women and homosexuals and it has come under scrutiny because, although it is not geared towards younger listeners, it is still finding its following amongst them. This is one of the reasons that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has decided to step in. In September of this year, they released a report on how movie studios, music companies, and the makers of video games target their violent products towards children. Upon seeing the report, Al Gore told the entertainment companies that they have six months to change their act or they would face unspecified retaliation from the government. Interestingly, the request for the creation of the report came from none other than President Bill Clinton more than a year ago following the Columbine incident. Clinton asked the FTC to determine whether the movies, music, and video games manufactured as questionable for children were in fact being marketed towards children anyway. "The report concluded that ‘the answers are, plainly, yes’" (Cagle 44). These findings are similar to the statement of John McCain in that there really is no certain truth to the statement. However, if one is to take this statement to heart, then it is all the more reason for a parent to observe what it is his or her child watches, listens to, or plays. In the example of Eminem, if a ten year old walks around his house singing, "B---h, I’m-a kill you," then the parent should know that the product needs to be taken away immediately. On the topic of television violence, Constance Faye Mudore writes that, "The National Television Violence Study says 61 percent of all TV programming contains violence, and that children’s shows are the most violent of all" (24). That same study also concluded that American youths witness more than 10,000 violent acts every year. With proven statistics like these, it seems more and more like the parental regulation of television is a good idea. Parents should not only regulate what shows their children watch on television, but also how much of it they watch. Because the average child watches seven hours of television every day, they become more susceptible to constantly seeing violence. "By clicking off the tube…you can help the industry get the message that [you] are tired of violence" (Mudore 24). Mudore also gives examples of ways teens can combat community violence when they turn their televisions off. Some of these examples include mentoring a young person, becoming a peer educator or mediator at school, volunteering, and confronting derogatory comments and behavior aimed at other students. By taking small steps like cutting back on television viewing, both parents and teenagers can make a great difference in stopping violence. Children constantly exposed to violence in the media are likely to incorporate it into their learning process. "Children tend to learn from what happens around them and from the people who are the most important to them, specifically their parents, but also including their aunts, uncles, teachers, priests, ministers, etc. because it is in that context that they develop a sense of themselves and others, a sense of right or wrong, and learn respect for themselves and others" (Javier, Herron, Primavera 339). Violence is everywhere in the media today. In film, you could cite such examples as The Terminator and Saving Private Ryan, although arguably, the violence in that film is made to show how awful war and violence truly are. On television, shows such as The Sopranos and E.R. project images of violence in almost every episode. Video games such as Mortal Kombat and Doom are well-known for their violent content, as are the albums of such rap stars as Eminem and Snoop Dogg. There will always be violence in the media, but parents should know when a product is too violent for their child to be exposed to. Whether or not violence does influence a child in society today is still a very debatable topic, but the parents should realize that it is very possible that violence in the media can influence their children. "The abdication of parental responsibilities and the erosion of the family are major contributors to the increasing number and the severity of the societal problems we face, including violent behavior among children" (Javier, Herron, Primavera 347). Parents should monitor what their children view, play, and listen to so that they can determine what is appropriate for their children, and what is not. Parents should also engage in conversations with their children if they do happen to see or listen to anything disturbing. This should help them to understand and learn from the experience. When using television as a babysitter for their children, parents could end up learning the hard way that their children can pick up violent tendencies merely from watching the TV. Sometimes it can be more detrimental than parents realize. Hopefully if parents monitor and talk to their children, then they can contribute to the downfall of child and/or teenage violence.

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