A blog post discussing the current anxieties our society faces with the ‘effects’ of the media.

According to Gustave Le Bon, as humans, we are unable to decipher the difference between fiction and reality. The struggle to differentiate fiction and reality may or may not be the cause of the anxieties our society faces in regards to violence in the media. When social issues are brought up, violence in the media is instantly to be blamed and quite frankly… is used as a scapegoat for real life violence. It is not the violence that is displayed that kills people, it is the consumers and their choice of actions. However, I believe that it is rare for adolescents and young children to be swayed by their favourite television shows.

As young children, we were all introduced to the media without even knowing what the media was. We were watching our favourite television shows, one of mine being The Simpsons and laughing at the ridiculous scenes. Without realising, we were blatantly exposed to the violence in the shows and believed that it was normal. Religiously watching these TV shows as a child introduced me to violence in the media, with this program having somewhat violent content. The Simpsons frequently showcases violence through their own TV cartoon characters, “Itchy and Scratchy” and the relationship between Bart and Homer Simpson.

“WHY YOU LITTLE” – A recurring scene in any Simpsons episode.

The image above shows a recurring scene in any episode of the Simpsons. Bart does something somewhat cheeky and Homer “disciplines” him. However, Bart is always safe afterwards which demonstrates that the violent act doesn’t have any affect on him and gives a sense of fiction to the scene. The removed sense of realism in the violence makes it a joke for the viewers, and the humour added helps to distinguish the reality and fiction. The violence shown on TV shows such as The Simpsons may encourage violence in children but does not outright promote violence. It is used as a tool to demonstrate the differences between cartoon violence and real-life violence.

George Gerbner’s Cultivation Theory states that “only 8% who commit violence escape retribution” and this proves that violence is not acceptable. Young children can learn the difference between fiction and real life violence.To say that the media is the only sole influence for creating a violent society is very naive to say. The media seems to be the scapegoat for causing violence in young children. However, I believe that it depends on the family unit, presence of a low socio-economic background and any mental health issues which can lead to the cause of real life violence.

As previously mentioned in this post, I believe that the background of perpetrators plays an intrinsic role in the deaths of innocent people. Often, cases show that the attacker has personal issues such as, neglect, a low socio-economic background, victim to bullying and isolation and the presence of a mental illness such as depression. These key factors can quite commonly be found in the perpetrators background checks. For example, the 1993 killing of Jamie Bulger by two 10 year old boys. The two boys had been subject to bullying and neglect and this had led them to kill an innocent boy. The judge thought that the case was awfully similar to the plot of the film Child’s Play (1991). Essentially, the boys were letting out their angers and frustration on the young boy because of their own neglect and bullying which they had experienced.

This murder is a perfect example of society blaming the media for something that seems very unrealistic. How is it possible for the two boys to be able to plan out and execute such a horrible crime? Society has used ‘anxiety’ as a blanket and blamed the media for the actions that they have taken. It is in fact necessary to take a look at the upbringing and social wellbeing of the culprits before blaming the media for any actions that are taken. Although this is a very controversial topic, I believe that the media can not be solely blamed for incidences that have/are occurring. Finally, I do not agree with Gustave Le Bon’s statement. People can distinguish between fiction and reality, it comes down to the individual when the action is taken.

Leave some comments about this, I’d love to hear what you have to say.