Sex And Violence In Media

Sex and violence in the Electronic media is a pressing topic. This paper raises a number of pros and cons. But mainly, this paper deals with the cons of regulating the media.
During research, the most pressing point found was the issue of censorship. Censorship is the keystone of the public’s apparent outcry against the electronic media. To better understand censorship, the term must be defined. In Webster’s New World Dictionary, censorship is defined as the act of removing or prohibiting anything that is considered obscene or libelous or politically objectionable. Even though there are millions and millions of viewers in the United States that watch the three main networks can and should the networks be responsible for what they put on the air?
Yes, they really should have some sort of morals as to the nature of the content and at what time the program airs as well. By the time the average American child has reached the end of Elementary school, he will have witnessed at least 8,000 murderers and 100,000 acts of violence. Now, do you think that children at a vulnerable age should be exposed to that many violent acts? How do you think that it will affect the child’s behavior and mental growth? In a 1970, study at Pennsylvania State University, psychologist Aletha Huston showed cartoons of fists fighting superheros to one group of four year old and nonviolent cartoons to another group. The children of the study were comprised of children that were aggressive in nature. The study found that the group that was shone the violent cartoons were more apt to hit and throw things after the
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viewing. While the kids who watched the nonviolent cartoons remained relatively calm and docile. It was concluded that children that watch violent cartoons are more apt to commit crimes when they are adults, such as spousal abuse and drunk driving, according to Leonard Eron a psychologist at University Michigan’s Institute for Social Research. Children might think it is okay to rob a bank, shoot someone or commit other violent crimes against another person. Also as the child grows older, he begins to believe that revenge through violence, as demonstrated on such shows as New York Undercover and NYPD Blue where people get revenge by breaking other peoples’ noses, shooting them or committing hit and runs, is okay. In other words, a false impression of reality is formed for children.
We have found out that cartoons are the most violent programming found to date in television today. Between the ages of two and twelve, the average amount of television watched is approximately 25 hours per week. Most of these 25 hours are comprised of cartoons. Cartoons like Tom and Jerry, where they both get hurt or blown up, and never die and always get back together, without a scratch. Again, this promotes a false sense of reality.
Nowadays, there are products out, such as the V box’. This box is programmable by a parent to block out certain channels at certain times so that the child will not be exposed to violence on television at certain times of the day.
On the other hand, networks should not be responsible for what they air. What
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they are doing is catering to what the public wants. In their business, the network with the highest ratings wins. Which in turn means more capital for the network. Why would a parent use television as both a babysitter and a educational outlet? Television is for entertainment purposes only. Much of the information from today’s television programming is purely fictional. And if people decide to imitate what they see on television, then so be it. Everyone in this society has the right to either lay down in the middle of a highway and die or not to and live a happy and prosperous life as demonstrated after teenager saw the movie The Program. As we all know, this was a real incident that occurred right here in Nassau County.
A network can not be responsible for the actions of over 250 million people in the United States. Why should it be the responsibility of the network to change all of its programming because one person decided to do a stupid act. Because of this, CBS had to change its format and it pretty much cut out all of the violent programming. Now, CBS is ranked number three, which in turn means they are getting less ratings, which also means that they get less money.
According to a survey conducted by Aletha Huston in 1970, she stated that all violent nature from children is linked to television. But a major flaw was found. Leonard Eron of University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research stated that, no one is saying that all violence is inspired by television and not all homes have a moral compass. As long as there are individuals that want networks to be responsible, should networks also restrict what they put on the air?
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Long ago jurists decided free speech did not protect the right to shout fire in a crowded theater. A small child could mistakenly turn on the television and watch shows such as MTV’s Beavis and Butthead and imitate what they see. One perfect example is after watching Beavis and Butthead, Austin Meissner, a five year old, decided to take a lighter from his mother’s dresser and decided to set his house on fire. By doing this, he unwittingly killed his sister, who was only two. Austin’s mother demanded that the show be taken off the air. After watching these shows most young children cannot discern what is real and what is make believe and start to imitate what they have seen. Doctor Prothrow-Stith of Harvard School of Public health stated that I’ve come to see that more and more we use the media to teach children that violence is a way of life. We also present violence not just as a natural thing, as funny and entertaining. Children begin to learn this lesson from their first cartoons and superheros, before moving on to the high tech violence of action movies for adults. By the time they are teenager using violence to resolve conflict seems very natural to them. Also Steven Bochco, creator of NYPD Blue’ stated that When I was little, I went to the movies every week and saw violent cartoons and two or three Westerns in which the entire Sioux nation was massacred by the cavalry. I never had a question that what I was watching was make believe, because I was raised by a family that gave me a moral
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If a person does not like what they see on cable or a network station, they have the right to turn off the television or change the channel. Thus the miracle of modern technology comes into play. People, when they order cable channels such as HBO, Playboy and other premium channels know from the get go what they are getting into. Now, if they already know what they are getting into why should there be restrictions on cable television. You now the responsibilities before you order. Like Playboy, it is an added extra and there should be no monitoring what so ever. Hence restrictions would
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violate the first amendment. Another way the First Amendment is violated is when the government tells broadcasters how much educational television programs they should produce and what time slots they should use for such programs. Jeff Baumann, the general counsel for the National Association of Broadcasters that, It takes away the discretion of the broadcasters. Another reason why there should be no restrictions on cable is the plain and simple reason of the extra cost involved. You’re paying extra for the channel which in return should be a guaranteed form of free speech. Another fine example is MTV’s television show Beavis and Butthead. When Austin Messner set his house on fire a MTV spokesperson stated that I think it was a terrible tragedy. But we do not feel that the program was responsible. As a compromise to the mother’s demand of pulling Beavis and Butthead from the air MTV, has moved Beavis and Butthead four hour later in the night and took off any references to fire in the program.
To often television is not about protecting speech but protecting a business. Pretending otherwise is foolish. Peoples perception of violence is different from one another. One person may perceive violence as a merely a fist fight between two people. On the other hand someone might think violence as a car jacking or igniting a subway token booth on fire. As demonstrated on a television program. Television doesn’t allow your imagination to run wild. You are restricted to what the frame holds and what the director feels is appropriate for that particular scene. You are given visuals stimulations
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in one point of view which is not necessarily correct. Bill Moyer stated that Journalists are suppose to gather, weigh, organize and evaluate information – not just put on picture. In other words journalists should go out and gather news as it happens not just doing it for the sake of ratings. News programs will do what ever it takes for their story to be the best from the other networks. The more gore and violence a news program has, the better the story will be and more viewers will watch the news program. The evening news, sold as televisions time for serious analysis, increasing becomes an ever more predictable litany of each days killings and disasters. Serious information is secondary at best. I don’t think that a news program should show the body of a person being pulled out from the river. They should have respect for the family and friends of the victims. Do you think that the news should show the victims? Attorney General Janet Reno said that networks do not take action on what they air Congress would. As a direct result from her statement executives for A Current Affair’ admitted that violent content of the program was softened and more advertisers were willing to buy time.
Another television format that is not actually news is termed hard core news coverage. Shows like COPS and the infamous O.J. Simpson chase are two examples of this format. In other words, when the viewers are tired of fiction, they turn to items that are not necessarily news worthy, but they draw in many viewers because the pictures are very dramatic and graphic.
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News shows are on the air for a specific reason and that is to inform the public. They have the right under the first amendment to show whatever the producers feel is news. News programs with the best raw footage wins the audience and the ratings. The more gore and violence a news story has more and more viewers will watch the story. Viewers are aware more to image than audio so if viewers see explicit violence on a news program they tend to remember that story and discuss it later among friends and family.
There are many detrimental and beneficial affects of explicit sexuality and violent acts. Some of the detrimental effects of sex and violence in the media are the in your face attitudes like Beavis and Butthead present not just violent behavior but cynical attitudes about the meaning of life ,value of community and dignity of the human person. With people imitating what they see on television directors and producers should kept in mind what they are making and how society might react to their programs. If people continue to imitate what they see on television it just proves to you that many people rely on television not just as a babysitter but as a device that influences young children to act violent in times of revenge. People must learn from past experience that if you do decide to lay own in the middle of a highway, as viewers did after watching The Program’ people do get hurt or even die. People should watch and learn from the television and from any aspect of television programming that if you do not learn from you mistakes you are doomed to repeat it. Children as well as adults see violent acts on television and believe that its alright to use violence as a way alleviate anger by actions
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that are unlawful. But since the character get away with the crimes many individuals in the real world believe that they can get away with it as well. The more violent acts that are realistically portrayed the more likely it is to be imitated. Children are more likely to imitate characters they see. Actors that portray violence like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator 2, and Conan the Barbarian.
Some of the beneficial effects of sex and violence in the media are that some people might have a brain in their head and watch the news of how a child burned his house up accidentally killed his younger sister. People maybe have seen this and made a mental note to make such this never happens again. If congress does intervene with the networks on what they broadcast there would be more programs that aren’t entertaining but educational. These programs might help children decide what is right and what is wrong. We all know that killing a person is wrong but many children think that its okay because they see it on television. – 11 –
Lester, Paul Martin. Visual Communication; Images With Messages. Wadesworth Publishing Company. New York. 1995.
N.Y. Times Articles
WBLS-FM to Stop Playing Violent Songs, Steven Lee Myers, December 5, 1993.
Reno Chastises TV Networks on Violence in Programming, Michael Wines, October 21, 1993.
Janet Reno’s Heavy Hand, editorial, October 22, 1993.
U.S. Restrictions on Adult TV Fare are Struck Down – Constitutional Question, Neil A. Lewis, November 24, 1993.
Americans Would Hail Laws on Movie Violence, letters to the editor, October 29, 1993.
Public and Private TV Guide, Anna Quindlen, Op. Ed., October 28, 1993.
Cleaning Up Violence on Radio, editorial, December 11, 1993.
Child Pornography Issue Set Off Alarm at the White House, Neil A. Lewis, November 13, 1993.
Clinton to Widen Law on Child Smut, Neil A. Lewis, November 16, 1993.
Law and Politics, Anthony Lewis, Op. Ed., November 29, 1993.
Schools Need to Teach Alternatives to Violence, letters to the editor, December 3, 1993.
TV Violence: Survival Vs. Censorship, a dialogue between Senator Ernest F. Hollings and attorney Floyd Abrams, Op. Ed., November 23, 1993.
More Students Are Violent at Young Age, Josh Barbanel, December 4, 1993.
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Rapper Charged in Shootings of Off-Duty Officers, Ronald Smothers, November 2, 1993.
Disney to Omit Film Scene Tied to Teen-Ager’s Death, October 20, 1993.
Not Like a Movie: A Dare Leads to Death, Michael de Courcy Hinds, October 19, 1993.
Media and Values. Media and Violence – Part One: Making the Connections. Center for Media and Values. California. 1993.
Media and Values. Media and Violence – Part Two: Searching for Solutions. Center for Media and Values. California. 1993.
Human Sexuality