Media needs to be more conscious in depictions of violenceBy Chris Beacham | 01/23/2013 11:00pm
It is no secret that media and pop culture have changed significantly over the past century. In a similar vein, the standard of appropriateness evolved, changing alongside media to allow for more self-expression, including violence.
With this increase of violence in media came the question: How does violence in cinema contribute to violence in society? The question has come up repeatedly in the last year. The increase in large-scale gun violence has pushed the U.S. government to potentially pass new gun laws, while Vice President Joe Biden has met with companies of video games to discuss violence in what they are creating.
The question is fascinating, especially now. While I do not believe in censorship, I also believe that media has a huge influence on our culture, which does have an influence on collective behavior. We live in a violent society. Media depictions of violence seem to mirror this and inadvertently endorse it. Don’t get me wrong, I believe mental health and gun policies/regulations are the two most important issues in the debate on large-scale crimes and how to eradicate them.
Still, I can’t help but feel that culture does play a part in desensitizing us to gun violence. Guns have been in films from the beginning of cinematic history, but how they are depicted has changed drastically.
For me, there is too much of a sadistic “guns are cool” and “violence is fun” mentality in our culture. Some of my favorite films have violence, but the way in which it is presented is very different from many films today.
In media, violence has the potential to be used elegantly and to communicate profound ideas and feelings, but this is rarely the case. The older movies get, the more violent and gruesome they become.
Most people are able to understand the line between fantasy and reality, but for some with psychological issues, the violent media becomes fuel to the fire of their condition. The simple fact is that films have spawned violent acts.
Stanley Kubrick’s film “A Clockwork Orange” was thought to inspire copycat crimes throughout Britain and was banned, although Kubrick disagreed with the connection. In Louisiana, a couple began a crime spree after being inspired by the film “Natural Born Killers.” Video games like “Grand Theft Auto” have inspired crime sprees, some from teenagers.
There is no balance in the world of the media. There is too much violence and no meaning behind it. It is time for the film, television, video game and music producers to become more mindful of what they’re producing for public consumption and gain some sense of responsibility for the part they play in impacting and molding the culture of society.
Art can change the way people think and feel about the world around them; that is an incredibly powerful force. It is time to recognize that reality and begin to craft art with more awareness.
Chris Beacham is a sophomore majoring in psychology. His column runs biweekly.