The Blame Game

For people like you and me, it is given that an acknowledgement must be made towards the sovereignty that the media holds. Everyone obviously realises that living in the twenty-first century means that the media holds some worth in your life. But because of this ‘in-your-face’ presence it seems to have, people tend to think that this directly dictates our behavioural habits and more specifically, our ‘aggression’ that manifests from watching violent media.

As Richard Felson writes astutely in his review, technological developments have “dramatically increased the availability of violent entertainment.” Ergo, violence is a popular form of entertainment as we can frequently see in big blockbuster movies and crime shows that raid our television. He also mentions that through seeing an increase of violent crime, some scholars claimed that there was a “causal connection” between the cause and effect of such occurrences. However, this “causal connection” is not enough to blame it solely on the media.

To solve this theory, Professor Steven Messner used his expertise in crime and sociology to see if there was in fact, a “causal connection”. He examined the audience size estimates based off violent television shows in the US and compared the results to areas with high crime rates. The results were quite surprising satisfying. They were “contrary to expectations” as mentioned in this paper, which led to Messner speculating that perhaps the more we watch violent television, the less likely we are going to trifle with aberrant behaviour.

The common argument that surrounds this debate is the susceptibility of children to media violence. Referring to Bandura’s ‘BoBo Doll’ experiment, I see this as being about as pointless as the ‘g’ in sovereign. According to Felson, Bandura claimed that television “distorts knowledge” and provokes an aggressive response. But putting a child in a room and telling them to imitate violent actions is not going to prove this. Show me the logic, please.

The apparent ‘bombardment’ of evidence surrounding the causality of media violence and crime is not so overwhelming, amusingly enough. As psychology professor Jonathan Freedman answers, the evidence is not anything that’ll make you set your television on fire. He concludes that either there is “no effect of television violence on aggression” or that if there is, it is “vanishingly small.” So quite frankly, the “research” and “experiments” that attempt to blame childhood aggression appear to be quite dodgy. This is since most participants in such research including children, upon realising the objective of the researcher, comply with the intent of the experiment, thus making it not authentic. For as Freedman aptly remarks, a Bobo doll is made to be hit, just as a “soccer ball is made to be kicked.”

Remember, the facts speak for themselves. Violence as seen through the media is not making us primitive, people. Rather, it is an endless checklist of other possibilities including background, genetic composition, education, relationships and so on. After all, your relationship with the media directly depends upon your interaction within it. In reality, media effects are minor on an individual. So as long as we keep our mindfulness about it, don’t blame the media for motivating people’s mistakes.

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