The representation of violence in media is an issue which has been under constant dispute and has seen the mediums of film, television and video games come under very heavy scrutiny for the ‘effect’ it has on certain individuals (both children and adults) in society. But are the media really to blame?
There has been considerable research undertaken, over the years, which has attempted to link the portrayal of violence in media to the behaviour of consumers in society. Yet, the question we must ask ourselves is, as Gauntlett (1998) states “why are there no clear answers on media effects?” In response to this question, Gauntlett (1998) goes on to suggest “that the media effects research has quite consistently taken the wrong approach to the mass media, its audiences, and society in general.” I, myself, own violent video games and films and I have watched my 13 year old brother interact and watch these games and movies. Sure, he thinks it’s ‘cool’ when two characters engage in a violent gunfight, but does this make him anymore violent then the next 13 year old? I don’t believe so.
Christopher J. Ferguson (2010, pg.40) believes that one of the problems in the studies of violent crime is the fact that studying violent crimes experimentally would clearly be unethical which rules out the ability to “examine the measure of aggression in the laboratory”. Another factor, which I found fascinating in the reading of David Gauntlett’s “Ten things wrong with the ‘effects model’, is that “the effects model is selective in its criticisms of media depictions of violence”. This refers to the fact that researchers have focused merely on violence depicted in fictitious media as opposed to non-fictitious media (e.g. news). This, I believe is another good point which I believe is important in considering whether the media really is to blame for violent crimes.
In the end, we must consider the media as only a possible factor in the cause of violent crimes. I believe that essentially it is how an individual perceives what they see that is to blame, rather than the media itself.
Gauntlett, David. ‘Ten Things Wrong with the ‘effects model’, in Approaches to Audiences – A Reader, Roger Dickinson, Ramaswami Harindranath and Olga Linne (eds) Arnold: London, 1998 http://www.theory.org.uk/effects.htm
Ferguson, J. Christopher. 2009. Violent Crime: Clinical and Social Implications. Sage Publications Inc., Thousand Oaks. CA