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America: Red, White, Black ,and Blue

Violence in the Media. What did America do to be so red, white, black and blue? Author Michael Thierry explores the American culture of violence.

 
 
Illustration GangSmashers by Mic Theory
Illustration GangSmashers by Mic Theory
PRLog - Apr. 24, 2012 - ATLANTA -- Violence in the media is tearing away at the fabric of American society.  Violence in the media is hazardous to your health.
For as much as diversity defines the actuality of the American family archetype so does the
lack of it define typical American television programming. America is built upon the
principles of free speech and democracy but may give up too much in order to
achieve it! It was not so long ago an American president considered torture as an alternative to judicial justice. Advertisers put the safety, health, and well-being of America’s
children at stake in order that HBO and Cinemax can bring us another
chapter of the movie Saw. The average American including American youth have
more ways to watch television wherever and whenever they choose than ever
before in history, but the subject matter is usually similar if not the
same mold of sensationalism and bereft of moral substance regardless of the
device utilized, from traditional television to internet or mobile device.
The USA has regulations on advertising tobacco and liquor products yet
gratuitous violence is acceptable fare on prime time television.

How can television violence affect us one might ask? After all, it’s only
entertainment. Yet it seems the depiction of violence as entertainment make
violence more acceptable in our society. It causes us to be desensitized to
real life crime, cruelty and illegality. In an October 1994 report from the
Center for Disease Control and Prevention it was noted that “from 1963 to
1985 annual homicide rates for 15-19 year old males were one third to one
half the rates for the next three higher 5-year age groups”. The report
went on to state that between the years of 1985-1991 the “15-19 year old
rates for murder and non-negligent manslaughter increased 154% (from 13.0
to 33.0)” surpassing the 25-34 year old males. One of the probable causes
cited was “frequent personal exposure to violence as an acceptable or
preferred method for solving disagreements.” In order to combat a problem
one first must study what it is so in order to understand the impact of
violence in the media more fully the Parents Television Council (PTC) based
in Alexandria Virginia since 2003 has taped every show of prime time
network TV. They have “more than 100,000 hours of programming to view
annually “according to a 2005 Time magazine article by James Poniewozik.
The PTC utilize what they call an Entertainment Tracking System (ETS) to
track every televised swear, profanity, incident of disrespect for
authority and incident of sexual contact and violence. The article goes on
to point out that the Parents Television considers themselves to be on the
frontline of a War against indecency which “pits free-market conservatives
against family-values conservatives, free speech liberals against Big
Government liberals, and pro-business Congress and White House against mega
corporations.” Some of the results the PTC laud may seem ridiculous to the
average viewer reportedly they were instrumental in forcing Fox Television
to remove the bare bottom of the infant cartoon character Stewie from
reruns of The Family Guy. But they also claim to have driven away 50
sponsors from FX’s Nip/Tuck and The Shield. Still the question remains
whether watchdog groups like this are effective or just muddle the issues.
On February 8, 1996 the Telecommunications Act of 1996 became Public Law
104 104 and in section 551 “Parental Choice in Television Programming”
Congress found that “Television influences children’s perception of the
values and behavior that are common and acceptable in society.” Congress
also found that “the average American child views more than 25 hours of
television each week and some as much as 11 hours a day. According to the
report children in the United States are, on average, exposed to an
estimated 8,000 murders and 100,000 acts of violence on television by the
time the child completes elementary school. Congress prescribed procedures
for a television rating code and made it mandatory that all newly
manufactured television sets include a V-chip mechanism to block
inappropriate television shows potentially harmful to children these tools
currently provide parents with information about video programming which is
non-intrusive and in the child’s best interest. The problem is relying on
households to police the negative media content to minimize its effects on
the young may not be enough. As Author, Suicide Prevention and School
Violence Researcher Loren Coleman explained in his book The Copycat Effect
(2004) “There is one thing certain in these nerve wracking times of ours;
that the media is the salt that is rubbed into our collective wounds.”
Coleman ascribes to the belief that the media “exacerbates violence by
dwelling on it in gleeful detail…If it bleeds it leads.” Coleman believes
that things can improve in terms of teens reenacting violence they see on
television but only if the media changes its focus and refrains from
sensationalizing and/or glorifying violent acts.

It would seem American Society has created a body politic of violence and
fear. In Barry Glassner’s book The Culture of Fear (1999) he contends that
the media promotes what he terms as “frivolous fear” to distract the masses
so that rather than confront the disturbing shortcomings in our society the
public dialogue centers on disturbed individuals like Saddam Hussein,
Jeffrey Dahmer or Osama Bin Laden. Even in the case of the election of
President Obama some in the media would paint him as a Hitler-like neo
Nazi, Islamic terrorist when “nothing” he states “has done a better job of
exploiting our anxieties than the phrase The war on terror used incessantly
by the Bush administration.” In conclusion it may be that the American
psyche needs time to heal. Our media bombards us with a recent history of
holocaust survivors, ethnic cleansing, white slavery prostitution, cold
war, nuclear arms races, global terrorism, the Korean conflict, Vietnam,
civil rights assassinations, governmental sanctioned torture, AIDS and
pandemic crises, the war on drugs, Columbine, 9/11, child molesting
priests, honor killings, neo fascism, and religious fanaticism. In the face
of such societal ills bombarding us through the airwaves what workable plan
of action can our progeny fathom? How can they make more concrete the moral
values we aspire to and maintain a determination to achieve the best of
humanities goals we have within? It is plain we need more than
entertainment; what is needed is media that is a call to persevere and a
visual reminder and motivator toward the best nature of mankind. Perhaps
the answer can be found in the lyrics of Princes song controversy “Don’t
let your children watch television until they know how to read, or else all
they’ll know how to do, is cuss, fight, and breed.”
Sources
Encounter Theatre as a Means of Social Change. by Dr David D. Coleman c 2006
The Copycat Effect by Coleman L. Simon & Schuster (C 2004) The Culture of Fear by
Glassner B. Perseus Books Group (C1999) Points of View: Violence in the
media (article) p2-2 by Wagner G. and Pearson J (C
2009)No 13: Has TV gone too far? by Poniewozik J.
(March 28, 2005) Prince: Controversy Warner Bros Records/Controversy Music
ASCAP (C1981)

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http://www.prlog.org/11857844/1

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