Violence In Entertainment And Its Effect On Society

Does entertainment influence society's attitude towards violent behavior? In order to fully answer this question we must first understand what violence is. Violence is the use of one's powers to inflict mental or physical injury upon another, examples of this would be rape or murder. Violence in entertainment reaches the public by way of television, movies, plays, and novels. Through the course of this essay it will be proven that violence in entertainment is a major factor in the escalation of violence in society, once this is proven we will take all of the evidence that has been shown throughout this paper and come to a conclusion as to whether or not violence in entertainment is justified and whether or not it should be censored.

Television with its far reaching influence spreads across the globe. Its most important role is that of reporting the news and maintaining communication between people around the world. Television's most influential, yet most serious aspect is its shows for entertainment. Violent children's shows like Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and adult shows like NYPD Blue and Homicide almost always fail to show human beings being able to resolve their differences in a non-violent manner, instead they show a reckless attitude that promotes violent action first with reflection on the consequences later. In one episode of NYPD Blue three people were murdered in the span of an hour. "Contemporary television creates a seemingly insatiable appetite for amusement of all kinds without regard for social or moral benefits" (Schultze 41). Findings over the past twenty years by three Surgeon Generals, the Attorney General's Task Force on Family Violence, the American Medical Association, the National Institute of Mental Health, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other medical authorities indicate that televised violence is harmful to all of us, but particularly to the mental health of children (Medved 70-71). In 1989 the results of a five year study by the American Psychological Association indicated that the average child has witnessed 8,000 murders and 100,000 other acts of violence on television by the time he or she has completed sixth grade. In further studies it was determined that by the time that same child graduates from high school he or she will have spent 22,000 hours watching television, twice as many hours as he or she has spent in school (Bruno 124).

In a study by the Centers for Disease Control, published by the JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), it was shown that homicide rates had doubled between the introduction of television in the 1950's and the end of the study in 1994. In that same study other possible causes for the vast increases in violence were studied, "the 'baby boom' effect, trends in urbanization, economic trends, trends in alcohol abuse, the role of capital punishment, civil unrest, the availability of guns, and exposure to television"(Lamson 32). Each of these purported causes was tested in a variety of ways to see whether it could be eliminated as a credible contributor to doubling the crime rate in the United States, and one by each of them was invalidated, except for television. Children average four hours of television per day, and in the inner city that increases to as much as eleven hours a day, with an average of eight to twelve violent incidents per hour. It is also interesting to note that violence occurs some fifty-five times more often on television than it does in the real world (Medved 156). FBI and census data show the homicide arrest rate for seventeen-year-olds more than doubled between 1985 and 1991, and the rates for fifteen-and sixteen-year-olds increased even faster. Movies also add their fair share to the problem of violence in society. "Researchers have established that copycat events are not an anomaly. Statistically-speaking, they are rare, but predictable, occurences. Television shows, novels, but especially movies-all can trigger copycat violence" (Medved 72). As recently as November of 1995, New York City officials believed that the burning of a toll-booth clerk was a result of copycat violence, resulting from a similar scene in the movie Money Train. In 1994, Nathan Martinez shot and killed his stepmother and half sister after watching the movie Natural Born Killers at least six times. "Later, Martinez, who had shaved his head and wore granny sun