Murderous Media

Everyday most people will sit down in front of the news; I don’t know if you had noticed, but most of the news is a tad on the negative side. The war in Iraq or Afghanistan, crisis in the middle east, violence is everywhere when you switch on your television set. Even Neighbours occasionally has a bar brawl, there really is no getting away from it.


Mass Media is blamed on many violent acts, we watch too much violent television programs, kids play too many violent video games, and god forbid you’ve bought your child a light-up light saber, star wars style. Beware, he/she could become a mass murderer of the future. No! you gasp, but I don’t want Tommy to be a murderer, fear not dear friends read on and find a fitting solution.

The Media effects model is a theory we’ve probably all come across. It looks at the way that violence or “inappropriate content” in mass media affects the people who consume it. For example, your son is a HUGE Star Wars fan, so you buy him a toy light saber, he replicates violent scenes from his favourite movie. The Media Effects Model will then look at how this is affecting your dear little boys psyche, how it will increase his heart rate, make him a more violent and generally worse person, all from watching Star Wars. Fortunately there are a few issues with the way the Media Effects Model works. These problems are laid out in an Article by David Gauntlett “Ten things Wrong with the ‘Effects Model'”.

Briefly it looks at:

  1. the ‘effects model’ does things backwards. They start with a problem, i.e. a child being violent and then try to link it to the media.
  2. the effects model  treats children as ‘inadequate’ and unable to make moral judgements in the same way that adults would.
  3. The Media is a scapegoat, most negative societal consequences are blamed on ‘the media’ and then reported by ‘the media’.


This is an example of old cartoon violence, one of the many programs on t.v that uses violence as entertainment. Many generations have grown up with what I shall refer to as the ‘Tom and Jerry effect’. This particular cartoon began airing in the 1940’s so that means several generations have been exposed to this ‘inappropriate’ content without growing up to be violent mass murderers. Now I don’t know about you, but after watching Tom and Jerry attack each other repeatedly in all manor of violent ways, I didn’t really feel the need to go and assualt people with a baseball bat in the street.

An article on the website livestrong by Nicole Adams gives us a perfect example of panic over media violence and what is wrong with the effects model.

” A three-year National Television Study, reported by the AAP, found that children’s shows had the most violence of all television programming. Statistics read that some cartoons average twenty acts of violence in one hour, and that by the age of eighteen children will have seen 16,000 simulated murders and 200,000 acts of violence on television. “

Questions that need to be asked about articles with claims like this should be where do these statistics come from? Who is sitting there deciding what is considered a violent act and what isn’t? David Gauntlett’s Article looks at the way that many of the studies done on violence in the media often happen from a very conservative angle. Meaning that whoever is sitting there counting these ‘violent acts’ is assuming that there is no retribution or moral angle, it assumes that every violent act is done in a ‘bad way’ for negative effect.

” Young people are especially in jeopardy of the negative effects of television violence because “many younger children cannot discriminate between what they see and what is real,” reports the American Academy of Pediatrics. “

This is a perfect example of treating children or youth as inadequate or unable to examine a moral situation in the same way that you or I would. whereas in actual fact many children are very aware of what is wrong and right, as well as what is real and what is purely there for entertainment. There views of such are often more uncomplicated than that of adults. One of my strongest childhood memories is of being falsely accused of some arbitrary misdemeanour as a child, “It wasn’t me” I told the teacher, but non the less I was punished, wrongly punished. I still feel angry about this today. If it happened now as an adult I probably wouldn’t look at it with such strong feelings, but as a child this was the worst thing that could have happened! Did I mention this was pre-school. Young children not understanding morals, try telling that to a three year old.

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